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Predicate

Time and Memory Issue 3, 2013

An Interdisciplinary Humanities Journal Published by the Georgetown University English Graduate Student Association


Š Predicate: An Interdisciplinary Humanities Journal, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Editors Annalisa Adams Maria VrÄ?ek Co-editors Anne Jefferson Kate Zavack Readers Annalisa Adams Kate Allen TJ Erb Jane Funk Anne Jefferson Jennifer Nguyen Maria Vrcek Whitney Williams Kate Zavack

With much gratitude to our faculty advisor, John Pfordresher.

Cover Image Joseph Mallord William Turner Approach to Venice, 1844 Andrew W. Mellon Collection Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington


Contents Editor’s Note MALLORY FINDLAY Bearing Witness: Trauma and Narration in Melmoth the Wanderer……………………………………………………..1 JANE FUNK Historical Imaginary: In Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao……………………………...……………………………9 DOMINIQUE SWANN Inside Roots Tourism and Narratives of History: Placing Roots Tourism in Dialogue with Black Women’s Neo-Slave Narratives…………………………………………………....25 GINA DOMINICK “Can’t forget the pleasure, the joy”: The Gothic Negative and Irréversible………………………………………………….43 MARSHA LIBINA Sebastiano del Piombo’s Viterbo Pietá: Meditation on Motion and Stillness………………………………………...62


Editors’ Note The 2013 issue of Predicate is, in many ways, the material representation of the wonderful conversations that have been sparked in our department this year with colleagues from other Georgetown departments and other DC-area universities. With our spring conference, “Spaces and Silences,” we began thinking about marginalized areas and characters, and the contributors to this issue have extended the conversation to innovative and deftly handled discussions of time and memory in literary, critical, historical, artistic, and cultural terms alike. We are extremely pleased to present such an insightful set of papers. Thank you, authors, for your many fruitful hours developing and revising your ideas into these thoughtful explorations. This issue could not have been produced without the indispensable assistance of our colleagues and faculty at Georgetown. Special thanks are due to Professor Ricardo Ortíz, Director of Graduate Studies, and Professor John Pfordresher, the journal’s faculty advisor, as well as the English department staff. We are also grateful to Whitney Williams and Susannah Nadler, current and former EGSA presidents, who have led (and continue to lead) our student organization confidently and always with style. Anne Jefferson and Kate Zavack, co-editors of this issue, worked diligently and meticulously. We are grateful to have collaborated with such dedicated scholars-in-training. We sincerely hope that you enjoy this issue, and that you will join the discussions begun here. Maria Vrček and Annalisa Adams Editors


Bearing Witness Trauma and Narration in Melmoth the Wanderer MALLORY FINDLAY It’s hardly surprising that modern trauma theory speaks so openly to a nineteenth century Gothic novel; the genre itself is a subject constantly trying to know its own history. Jerrold E. Hogle, in his account of Gothic fiction in western culture, writes that “a Gothic tale usually takes place […] in an antiquated or seemingly antiquated space […] Within this space, or combination of such spaces, are hidden some secrets from the past (sometimes the recent past) that haunt the characters, psychologically, physically, or otherwise” (Hogle 2). Indeed, what lie at the heart of a modern conception of trauma are “secrets from the past” that, in effect, “haunt” the traumatized victim both psychologically and physically. Hogle further explains, “These hauntings can take many forms […] to manifest unresolved crimes or conflicts that can no longer be successfully buried from view” (Hogle 2). Similarly, modern trauma theory explores the notion that the traumatized victim relives his trauma again and again through nightmares and flashbacks; most basically, a traumatic memory is like an unresolved Gothic conflict that can no longer be hidden from the consciousness or vision of the victim. The relocation of the Gothic threat from physical spaces to psychological spaces in the early decades of the nineteenth century (O’Malley 87) consequently provides a relocation of the haunting itself. Hogle explains, “the conflicted positions of central Gothic characters can reveal them as haunted by a second ‘unconscious’ of deep-seated social and historical dilemmas, often of many types at once, that

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become more fearsome the more the characters and readers attempt to cover them up or reconcile them symbolically without resolving them fundamentally” (Hogle 3). In essence, the project of many central Gothic characters is to uncover and come to terms with past traumas. It is not news that Gothic fiction lends itself to psychoanalytic readings; indeed, Sigmund Freud’s theories of the unconscious sometimes speak directly to Gothic fiction. What differentiates Charles Maturin’s 1820 novel, Melmoth the Wanderer, from other Gothic novels that came before it is that numerous characters experience the same traumatic encounter with the title character in a time frame that spans a century and a half, and a space that stretches across two continents. That the tales are located in two centuries and several countries (Ireland, England, Spain, and India) speaks to a threat that exists everywhere without consideration of time or place. A universalized threat is not commonplace in the Gothic; usually, the threat locates itself in a specific space in the text, such as Catholicism. Directly related to this universalized threat, and another unique aspect of Maturin’s novel in relation to its Gothic predecessors, is the novel’s structure. The novel is comprised of a series of tales told by characters to other characters. Storytelling and transcribing are fundamental not only to the characters but also to the novel itself, and not just general storytelling but the retelling of the same traumatic story again and again. Using modern trauma theory, we can explore what is traumatic in each tale. Because Gothic novels often explore the knowable and unknowable, trauma theory may help us to understand what we can’t know and why. Finally, in exploring what might be unknowable, we can begin to examine why retelling the same story again and again might be so integral to bearing witness and regaining subjectivity in the wake of an unspeakable horror. First, what exactly is traumatic in an encounter with the Wanderer’s proposition? There are two cores of a traumatic narrative, according to Cathy Caruth: “a crisis of death and the correlative crisis of life: between the story of the unbearable nature of an event and the story of the unbearable nature of its survival” (Caruth 7). I would argue that in Maturin’s novel, both of these crises are manifested when the Wanderer proposes his horrible conditions. The crisis of life

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is somewhat less evident than the crisis of death: each character in confrontation with the Wanderer and his unspeakable terms chooses to reject his proposition. In effect, each character chooses to live or survive the encounter rather than to give himself over to the agency of Satan. The crisis of this choice is twofold in each tale: first, the character must come to terms with the fact that he was on the brink of losing his soul to eternal damnation and successfully rejected that choice, and second, the character must face the earthly world of suffering, which could have been relieved by the Wanderer had his terms been accepted. Attempting to bear witness to the traumatic event by narrating it is one way of trying to “fundamentally resolve” the trauma, and especially important to the structure of Maturin’s novel. Additionally, each tale certainly makes the earthly world of suffering apparent; indeed, each tale expounds upon the horrid details of the suffering that led to an encounter with the Wanderer. Still, each character faces a crisis of survival after rejecting the Wanderer: John Stanton is left in his room at the madhouse (Maturin 58); both Alonzo Monҫada and Isidora Aliaga are left in their cells at the Inquisition (Maturin 237, 532); Walberg is left to watch his family slowly starve to death (Maturin 427); and Elinor Mortimer is left with a broken heart and the care of her former lover who has gone mad (Maturin 497). But what exactly have these characters survived? If we read each character’s encounter with the Wanderer as a crisis of death, in Caruth’s terms, we may be able to understand one possible reason why the Wanderer’s terms are so traumatic that they are literally unspeakable, since it is not actual death that Stanton, Monҫada, Isidora, Walberg, and Elinor face in their encounters with the Wanderer. If read traumatically, Maturin’s version of the unspeakable is more literally incommunicable than what was unspeakable in the novel’s predecessors. The inexpressible trauma at the core of the Wanderer’s terms threatens not only the coherency of each tale, but also the coherency of the telling subject. The Wanderer offers an exchange: temporary relief for eternal suffering. Though the characters choose temporary suffering, believing that eternal relief shall be theirs for making that choice, they are, in effect, faced with a potential loss of subjectivity insofar as making a compact with the

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devil gives Satan sovereignty over one’s soul. To narrate this loss of the subject would be nearly impossible as a speaking subject must exist in order to narrate. This is potentially the crisis of death that traumatizes each character. The Wanderer’s terms are unspeakable because they eliminate the speaking subject and unknowable because they cannot be fathomed. In the same way, each tale and thus each encounter with the Wanderer is constituted by that which is not or cannot be known, and not only when he offers his unspeakable terms. When inquiries are made about the Wanderer, a gap in knowledge becomes apparent. For instance, when the Inquisition questions Monҫada about his encounter in his cell with the “enemy of mankind,” Monҫada is unsuccessful in answering their questions; he recounts to John Melmoth, “I had told all I knew, I was anxious to tell all, but I could not tell more than I knew” (Maturin 235). Similarly, when the Inquisition questions Isidora about the Wanderer, she “utter[s] every thing that might criminate herself, but evade[s] with skill that baffled all the arts of inquisitorial examination, every question that refer[s] to Melmoth” (Maturin 528). It is singular that the Inquisition, an institution that is itself constituted by questioning, cannot get answers from Monҫada or Isidora that they would happily give if they could. Both Monҫada and Isidora tell all they can, but unknowable gaps still persist about the Wanderer. Are these unknowable qualities related to the Wanderer’s unspeakable conditions? The novel does not provide any clear answers to that question, but trauma theory suggests that victims of a trauma can only ever belatedly acknowledge the violence of their experience. Thus, the Wanderer’s victims really do tell the Inquisition everything they know, if only because their consciousness cannot “know” Melmoth to the fullest extent. The very structure of Maturin’s novel serves to emphasize this unknowable, fragmented quality of consciousness; narratives break off, manuscripts become illegible, and characters have difficulty speaking and hearing one another, all at seemingly crucial moments in attempting to “know” the Wanderer. In Stanton’s manuscript, when Stanton sees the Wanderer’s face, the manuscript becomes unreadable: “the stranger, slowly turning round, and

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disclosing a countenance which----(Here the manuscript was illegible for a few lines)” (Maturin 31). Additionally, a section of Stanton’s manuscript that takes place in the madhouse reads: “Of all their horrible dialogue, only these words were legible in the manuscript, ‘You know me now.’—‘I always knew you.’—‘That is false; you imagined you did, and that has been the cause of all the wild” and then the manuscript breaks off (Maturin 55). The manuscript becomes illegible at the moment when the Wanderer is about to explain the effects of Stanton imagining that he “knew” the Wanderer, leaving both character and reader unable to know the consequences of what John Stanton thought he knew. Similarly, in Adonijah’s manuscript, which Monҫada narrates to young John Melmoth, several pages are destroyed and Adonijah is unable to “supply the deficiency” (Maturin 356); this narrative gap comes at a crucial moment related to the Wanderer’s purpose. Isidora has just asked the Wanderer how she shall answer if her family inquires about “that region where [the Wanderer has] told [her] [his] rich and wide possessions are held.” At this moment, the Wanderer “utter[s] a certain word which Isidora [does] not at first appear to hear, or understand.” She needs the Wanderer to repeat the “withering monosyllable, not to be told” twice more to hear it, then shrieks and closes her casement on his form, but not his image (Maturin 355). We can only infer that the “withering monosyllable” is “hell,” though neither the manuscript, nor Adonijah, can fill the gap. Moreover, Isidora has difficulty even hearing the word the Wanderer says. Certain qualities about Melmoth the Wanderer must remain unknown, on a fundamental, structural level of the novel. Why? Perhaps an exploration of why traumatic narratives need to be told can attempt to address this question. When a victim is faced with a trauma, Caruth says the event “is experienced too soon, too unexpectedly, to be fully known” (Caruth 4). The violence and atrocity of the trauma is too much for the victim’s consciousness to fully integrate at the time. Therefore, in Caruth’s terms, because the event was not “known” in the first instance, it is “not available to consciousness until it imposes itself again, repeatedly, in the nightmares and repetitive actions of the survivor” (Caruth 4). I would suggest that for the characters who

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encounter the Wanderer, the implications of his unspeakable terms can only become fully available to consciousness in their repetitive recounting of the stories. Each character feels compelled to tell his or her story in order to come to terms with what he or she could not know in the first place. For example, Stanton traces the Wanderer to Ireland and leaves a manuscript he has written with the Melmoth family that details his encounters with the Wanderer (Maturin 39). In another instance, Adonijah’s room is full of parchments that narrate encounters with the Wanderer and skeletons of the Wanderer’s victims; the room itself is a testimony to the Wanderer’s horrible legacy (Maturin 263). Adonijah has made it his life’s work to collect and transcribe stories of the Wanderer, and Monҫada tells young Melmoth that the old man wanted the Spaniard to be his amanuensis (Maturin 268). Adonijah tells Monҫada “those [stories] of the two others thou must both hear and relate” (Maturin 270); it’s not just that Monҫada must bear witness to the tales—he must also transcribe them in his native language. Indeed, the novel seems to place immense importance on the transmission of these stories of suffering. Even though Monçada tells young Melmoth, “To bear about that horrible secret inurned in my heart, was that not enough? But to be compelled to scatter its ashes abroad, and to rake into the dust of others for the same purpose of unhallowed exposure, revolted me beyond feeling and utterance” (Maturin 270), Adonijah compels him to help with the transmission process: “those who, being speechless, yet speak […] Hear them!—take the pen in thine hand, and write” (Maturin 271). Only by disseminating the narratives can anyone try to approach what is unknowable in the tale. In attempting to narrate a belated acknowledgement of that which could not be known in its first instance, a traumatized victim begins to regain a sense of coherent subjectivity. The narrative becomes an act of reconstruction of the self. Having sketched a possible reading of the novel’s repetitive stories, we can return to what is unique about Maturin’s novel in terms of the universality of the Gothic threat. Each storyteller emphatically details the suffering that led to his or her traumatic encounter. Still, there is great equity in suffering in Maturin’s novel;

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each character, regardless of time or place, suffers under the weight of endemic human problems like mental illness, poverty, and broken hearts. Correspondingly, there is great equity in listening. In Caruth’s terms, we may say that the reader of this novel, as well as the listeners to the tales within the novel, constitutes “a parable of psychoanalytic theory itself as it listens to a voice that it cannot fully know but to which it nonetheless bears witness” (Caruth 9). What we cannot fully know in these tales are the unreadable sections of manuscripts and the unspeakable nature of Melmoth’s terms, but the novel seems to indicate that we can attempt to know one another’s suffering. Maturin’s novel is not optimistic about the relief of human suffering, but it is optimistic about bearing witness to one another’s suffering. The structure of the nested tales seems to underline that humans can come together as tellers and listeners and empathize despite gaps in knowledge. This teller/listener relationship is only possible in the novel because human suffering is universal; it is not localized in any religion or country or era. Chris Baldick, in the Introduction to the novel in the Oxford edition, makes the claim that “This novel is secretly as much about transmission as it is about transgression, but its very structure assumes a principle of transmissibility which its theology denies” (xii). Baldick’s conclusion may be too hasty, for what matters in the end is not whether each tale is passed on intact, but whether each gets told at all. Readers of the novel and hearers of the tales, in Caruth’s terms, constitute “the listening to the address of another, an address that remains enigmatic yet demands a listening and a response” (Caruth 9). This novel, like many other Gothic novels, often dismantles the distinctions between character and reader; the reader becomes implicated. Indeed, Maturin seems to ask, “Who must bear witness to this suffering?” Is it the characters who hear Melmoth’s terms but then cannot articulate them, so they feel compelled to recount their stories to others? Or is it the reader of the novel who tries to know the unspeakable by reading, in essence, the same story again and again, finally losing track of the subject who is narrating? By allowing us to lose track, or even by forcing us to lose track of the speaking subject, Maturin’s novel seems to imply that

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delineating the specific subject of suffering is not as vital as understanding that all humans suffer and then attempt to cope with that suffering in very similar ways. If this novel has any kind of Gothic moral to offer it’s that coping must be done collectively. We must not suffer in silence. Cathy Caruth writes that Freud’s most central insight in Moses and Monotheism is “that history, like trauma, is never simply one’s own, that history is precisely the way we are implicated in each other’s traumas” (Caruth 24). Perhaps that is what Gothic novels have shown us all along; history is a series of implications and we are all split subjects: both perpetrator and victim. Maturin’s addition to this tradition seems to add that we all must bear witness. This Gothic novel, though pessimistic about whether we can ever “know” traumatic history is, unlike its predecessors, optimistic about the human capacity for empathy. Works Cited Caruth, Cathy. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1996. Print. Hogle, Jerrold E. "Introduction: The Gothic in Western Culture." The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Ed. Jerrold E. Hogle. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002. 2-3. Print. Maturin, Charles R. Melmoth the Wanderer. Ed. Douglas Grant. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print. O’Malley, Patrick R. “Gothic.” A Companion to Sensation Fiction. Ed. Pamela K. Gilbert. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2011. 87. Print.

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Historical Imaginary In Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao JANE FUNK In her New Yorker article “Just the Fact Ma’am: Fake memoirs, factual fictions, and the history of history,” professor Jill Lepore asks: “is ‘historical truth’ truer than fictional truth?” The quotation marks she places around “historical truth” suggest that she does not find historical truth to be substantially “truer” than fictional formulations. Indeed, Lepore argues that while “history matters […] the best novels boast a kind of truth that even the best history books can never claim;” she identifies this elusive truth as “the truth of the possible, the truth of human nature.” Lepore claims that despite the epistemological weight given to historical work, it differs very little from literary work, citing novels and histories of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries whose authors continually blurred the distinction between historical and fictional narratives. Echoing author William Godwin’s suggestion that “the novelist is better than the historian […] because he admits that he is partial, prejudiced, and ignorant,” Lepore raises an essential difficulty in the production of historical texts. If all textual production is always ideological, and always (already) mediated by non-transparent language, then how may history be differentiated from fiction? What does the responsible production of history entail? And finally, in a slightly different vein: what role might fictional narratives play in the production of history? In this paper I suggest that authors responsibly produce historical fiction when they construct a space for alternative historical narratives that

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give voice to otherwise unrecoverable historical silences. Looking specifically at Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao I argue that these fictions can and should have a role in the production of history. Lepore’s argument concerning the ambiguous line between historical and narrative truth finds a theoretical basis in the work of historian Hayden White. In his book The Content of the Form, White constructs the framework for Lepore’s argument through his careful analysis of the inescapable relationship between history and narrative. White posits narrative as a “human universal,” asserting that “a refusal of narrative indicates an absence or refusal of meaning itself” (1-2). While White elaborates potential reasons for rejecting narrative such as the “embarrassment of plot” (5), he overrides these concerns by demonstrating the absolute necessity of narrative, asking, “what kind of blindness with respect to reality does narrativity dispel?” (214 ). Eve as White explores annals and chronicles as potential forms of non-narrative representation, he attributes their limited successes to the proto-narrative forms they embody. Historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot vehemently disagrees with White’s collapse of the boundaries between history and narrative, asserting that there remains an “ambiguous and contingent” but nevertheless vital “boundary between what happened and that which is said to have happened [...]” (13). For Trouillot, “history is always produced in a specific historical context. Historical actors are also narrators, and vice versa” (22). The conflation of actor/narrator is crucial to Trouillot’s argument: actors become narrators when they recount their experiences using various genres. Narrators become actors as they shape historical reality through their interpretations. The narrator-as-actor offers important insight into the role of historical fiction within discourses of historical meaning making. However, Trouillot does not leave White’s narrative model entirely behind. Instead, he adapts it, acknowledging that narrative shapes historical work but still differs from purely fictional or literary production. Trouillot and White’s work intersects at the sites of historical silences. Trouillot identifies silences existing in four locations: in “the making of sources,” “the making of archives,” “the

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making of narratives,” and “the making of history” (26, emphasis original). White is also interested in the silences that converge around the creation of sources and archives. He quotes Hegel, stating that, “‘there are periods that, although filled with ‘revolutions, nomadic wanderings, and the strangest mutations,’ are destitute of any ‘objective history.’ And their destitution of an objective history is a function of the fact that they could produce no subjective history, no annals’” (12, emphasis original). White, like Trouillot after him, locates an important silence in the availability or lack of subjective personal documents—diaries, newspapers, annals, etc. The silence in “the making of sources” is a silence at the heart of historical work that can never be recovered. The intersection of Trouillot and White’s thoughts on historical silence illuminates a space for the function historical fiction. Although Trouillot does not directly address historical fiction, his ecological, interconnected model of historical production opens a space for historical fiction as a mode of producing history: Debates about the Alamo, the Holocaust, or the significance of U.S. slavery involve not only professional historians but ethnic and religious leaders, political appointees, journalists, and various associations within civil society as well as independent citizens [....] This variety of narrators is one of the many indications that theories of history have a rather limited view of the field of historical production. They grossly underestimate the size, the relevance, and the complexity of the overlapping sites where history is produced, notably outside of academia. (19) From Trouillot’s statement, one can see how historical fiction might contribute as part of a growing field of historical production. Historical fiction complicates and makes relevant existing narratives, leading readers to explore other sites of historical production. If

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narrators truly are historical actors then historical fiction may shape historical discourse in ways not fully understood or recognized. Some historical silences may never be filled; however, historical fiction attempts to imagine the contours of these spaces and the voices that belong to them. Despite their vastly different approaches to history, Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are two novels that give voice to aspects of Haitian and Dominican culture that have been silenced in traditional historical narratives. Notable for dealing explicitly with trauma that others seek to hide, ignore, or minimize, The Farming of Bones composes what critic Idelbar Avelar terms a “virtual place of witness” (49). Danticat’s novel shapes an imaginative space in which she witnesses for the 15,000 Haitians who lost their lives at the hands of the Dominican government in 1937 (Turits 590). Danticat’s intimate and imaginative novel resists “official” sources of history, such as the state or the church, and embraces a matriarchal, domestic space; one in which she produces a alternative reading of the events of the massacre. As an author, Danticat becomes another voice who can witness to survivors that “‘you don’t need the justice of the peace […] you don’t need a confessor […] I know your tale’” (244). Indeed, the witness and work of The Farming of Bones is not an attempt to re-present the entire atrocity, but instead to give a name to some small portion of it, a meditation on the very possibility of witnessing. The motif of rebirth resonates throughout The Farming of Bones as Danticat explores how trauma reverberates after an historical event. Rebirth is already and inevitably linked to loss or trauma. In one notable passage, Amabelle visits a priest whom she hopes will help her discover what happened to her lover, Sebastien, who she hasn’t heard from since she fled from the massacre in Haiti back to the Dominican Republic. As she approaches the priest’s door, Amabelle falls to the ground. Lying in the open field, Amabelle recalls her childhood. She remembers being frightened watching a baby rolling and spinning on her parent’s bed, thinking the child was possessed. However, after she reports the possession to her parents, she recalls that her father just

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laughed and slapped the little boy’s bottom, which made him stop his spasms. Then he explained, my father, that sometimes In the first year, babies remembered their births with their bodies and had to repeat it many times before they could forget. When they did this, you were to help them recollect the whole thing, especially their coming out, by tapping them on the bottom as had been done to them after their birth. (258) Although this novel certainly offers the promise of healing through narrative, Danticat’s work shows that the cost of healing through the witness of narrative should not be lightly dismissed. With each new telling the victim, like the baby in Amabelle’s story, (re)experiences the violence that has gone before, and travels again the passage from their old life to the new. However, unlike the baby who physically remembers the process of birth, victims of trauma mentally relive their experiences each time they share their suffering. In the passage quoted above, Danticat suggests that not all death ends with the annihilation of spirit and body. Instead, the profound violation of self, caused by trauma, is another type of “death.” Amabelle’s journey is one of death and rebirth as she shares her story with those will listen; however, her struggle to witness her own trauma demonstrates that promise of narrative may always be, in some ways, a false promise. Soon after Amabelle and her fellow refugee Yves return to Haiti, Yves’ mother tells Amabelle, “‘I know your story.’” Amabelle wonders, “which story of mine did she know? Which story was she told?” (227). At this point in the narrative, Amabelle has only been in Haiti for a brief time, unaware of the narrative of events sweeping through the capital and the version of her suffering that Yves shared with his mother. Yves’ mother denies Amabelle the healing of narrative when she appropriates Amabelle’s narrative, casting her into the passive role. Amabelle has been “witnessed,” her subjectivity violated as she becomes interpolated as a figure to be acted upon, a reiteration of the violence she has already

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endured. Denied her status as an active agent in shaping her narrative, Amabelle unsuccessfully seeks for other outlets to express her grief. However, only after she assumes an active role and shares her story with those around her does Yves’ mother’s second assurance that “I know your story” ring true, an act of validation, not an act of appropriation (244). Despite the fact that The Farming of Bones, as an imaginative text does not function like other texts of witness, such as the testimonio, Danticat’s fiction has become part of the discourse of the massacre, providing a different but no less valuable perspective on historical events. The vital word here is, of course, “imaginative.” Throughout her novel, Danticat proves that an imaginative space can witness atrocity; The Farming of Bones embodies what Avelar terms the “promise of narrative” or the “retrospective construction of a witness, right there where all witnessing had been eliminated” (48). Although Danticat’s work may not be entirely uproblematic—like Yves’ mother, she appropriates the story of the “other”—her novel does important work by giving voice to those who have been so relentlessly marginalized and deserves serious consideration. The Farming of Bones excellently illustrates how historical fiction may influence historical production in its own way—this complex text expands a popular audience’s awareness of an otherwise obscure event. The difficulty of representation also lies at the heart of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a narrative utterly different than The Farming of Bones, but also deeply concerned with the question of witnessing a particular historical moment; in this instance, Trujillo’s dictatorship and the subsequent Dominican diaspora. Outside the scope of more traditional historical fiction, Junot Diaz’s genrebending work has led critics such as Ramón Saldívar to identify Oscar Wao as “‘historical fantasy’” (585). Díaz argues that attempting to represent the often traumatic immigrant experience requires new genres: “If you’re looking for language that will help you approach our nigh-unbearable historical experiences you can reach for narratives of the impossible: sci-fi, horror, fantasy, which might not really want to talk about people of color at all but that takes

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what we’ve experienced (without knowing it) very seriously indeed” (Danticat, “Díaz”). Like Danticat, Diaz’s novel reaches beyond official narratives in an attempt to fill historical silences. Díaz’s novel only bears a loose resemblance to typical historical fiction about the Dominican Republic such as In the Time of the Butterflies. However, his novel shares many exigencies which also motivate Danticat’s The Farming of Bones, including an exploration of the confluence of identity and collectivity. As Saldívar argues, historical fantasy builds “a basis for recognizing and understanding the construction of the new political destinies we may witness taking shape among diasporic groups in the US today” (595). Díaz explores the social, political, national, and historical forces that shape Oscar Wao’s identity as a Dominican male including the powerful influence that the collective identity the Dominican diaspora exerts on Oscar. In her article, “Dictating Desire, Dictating Diaspora,” Elena Machado Sáez identifies Oscar Wao as a “foundational fiction” of the diaspora (523). She argues that academics, and readers in general, misunderstand the pressure for individuals within the diaspora to conform, citing a troubling “trend within academic discourse [that] defines diaspora as a more inclusive community operating on a less oppressive identity politics than those set by the nation-state” (524). Indeed, Machado Sáez notes that “Díaz’s channeling of Oscar’s life through Yunior’s narrative lens reveals that even within the diaspora a silencing can occur, because the diaspora is also conditioned by the logic of the nation” (525). Machado Sáez does not explain exactly what she means by the “logic of the nation,” although from the context of her comment the logic of the nation would be that which suppresses otherness in favor of unifying, collective attributes. This logic is not necessarily the product of a top-down, controlled effort or policy. Instead, if as Beth Baker-Cristales argues, “the idea of the national state depends upon a conflation of territory, polity, and culture,” then this logic may be entirely more organic, channeled through many mediums and venues, including environmental and living conditions, occupations, family structures, and social networks (27). Díaz uses a metaphor that captures this diasporic logic well, when he describes Oscar’s mother immigrating to New York as one

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of “many waters waiting to become a river” (164). This flood of Dominican immigrants becomes the diaspora, where the easiest way to survive the rushing river’s inexorable path is to conform. The Dominican diaspora and its collective history is one manifestation of collective subjectivity. Trouillot complicates any simplistic reading of collective subjectivity and history by destabilizing the firm line between past and present. He writes “the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here [….] the past—or, more accurately, pastness—is a position” (15). In this passage, Trouillot problematizes the demarcation between past and present: the collective can only define itself through an analysis of past events in which it could not have existed because the analysis had not yet been performed. In the struggle to define themselves, collectives must grapple with questions such as where their past begins, where it ends, and if it could end or begin in alternate locations than it currently does. Trouillot identifies these questions as the problems of beginnings. One could, it seems, always go back one step further into the past, each step reiterating but also redefining the subjectivity or collectivity in question. Beginnings and endings fill the pages of Oscar Wao, which also grapples with how collectives and individuals define their past. The opening paragraph of Oscar Wao begins with a fall, one of many that haunts the pages of Díaz’s novel. The reader is presented with the birth of the fukú “the Curse and the Doom of the New World” said to come from “Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved” and to be the “death bane of the Tainos” (1). This opening immediately introduces the reader to the size and scope of Díaz’s vast project as he names three collectives: the enslaved voices from Africa, the Tainos, and the entire New World. Díaz brings the origins of the De León family back to this moment, weaving their fates in with the vast and troubled histories of both the old and the new worlds. Saldívar writes, “we know that the story of Oscar’s life, heir to the curse of imperial conquest and colonization, will also be the story of how 500 years of continental history shape[s] [...] personal destiny” (588). The opening paragraph of Oscar Wao promises not only to

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explore the relationship between the individual and the collective but also to explore how epistemological and representational doubts haunt historical production. All certainty about beginnings becomes unsettled as the novel opens with the words “they say,” which as critic Monica Hanna notes, “signals the injection of doubt from the beginning of the first sentence, an indicator of the alternative historical narration at play” (502). History permeates the pages of Oscar Wao, and a careful reader of Díaz’s narrative will question whose history is being told and who is doing the telling. In Oscar Wao, the logic of the diaspora shapes Oscar’s individual history, often in unhappy ways. As Yunior, the novel’s narrator, laments, there is “no one, alas, more oppressive than the oppressed” (22). As a child, Oscar is “(still) a ‘normal’ Dominican boy raised in a ‘typical’ Dominican family” and only later in life does he become an overweight nerd who nearly dies a virgin (11). The quotations around “normal” and “typical” indicate that Díaz, via Yunior, is not entirely comfortable with the idea that “normal” and “typical” are so easily defined. However, in Oscar’s life, his love of all things nerd, his obesity, and his large vocabulary all mark him as abnormal and lead to his rejection by diasporic Dominican society. Yunior reveals that “the kids of color, upon hearing [Oscar] speak and seeing him move his body, shook their heads. You’re not Dominican. And he said, over and over again, But I am. Soy dominicano. Dominicano soy” (49). Oscar’s desperate “soy dominicano” is an affirmation that although he lacks typical collectively Dominican characteristics, such as an ability to get girls, an important part of his identity lies in his Dominican heritage. Díaz demonstrates repeatedly how the confining definition of acceptable Dominican sexuality and the collective assumption about normative sexual habits for Dominican men, inherited from Trujillo’s exploits, ostracizes Oscar and exerts a damaging influence on diasporic society. Oscar lives in a world where sexual prowess is intimately tied to social identity; as Yunior reminds the reader, “anywhere else his triple-zero batting average with the ladies would have passed without comment, but this is a Dominican kid we’re talking about, in a Dominican family” (24). As a social and sexual

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parigüayo, Oscar can only watch from his bedroom window as his crush Maritza French-kisses her boyfriends, or read Penthouse instead of interacting with real women (18, 26). It is interesting that Oscar’s struggle in the novel is to find alternative ways to be Dominican and yet, at the end of the novel, Yunior recuperates Oscar into the erotic logic of the nation, not allowing for Oscar’s alternate identity. Yunior speaks for Oscar after his death, claiming that he has received a posthumous letter detailing how Oscar lost his virginity to the prostitute Ybón (334). Here, on the second-to-last page of the novel, the power of a normative sexual history, stretching back to the abuse of Anacaona, reintegrates Oscar into its “happy” ending, leaving no room for an interpretation of Dominican identity outside of aggressive sexuality (244). As Machado Sáez notes, “the text that Yunior narrates is his attempt to strike back at the system that marginalizes Oscar [...] But in the final analysis, what Yunior succeeds in doing is merely reinstating the very standards of masculinity and Dominicanness that alienate Oscar” (551-2). Yunior’s last addition to the book is an unnecessary re-writing of Oscar’s story in which Yunior appropriate Oscar’s sexuality to make his ending more conveniently “Dominican” instead of allowing his friend to escape the collective logic of the diaspora. Additionally, Yunior’s recuperation of Oscar’s sexuality into the normative realm denies many of the varied accounts of Oscar’s ‘true’ relationship with Ybón situation, effectively denying any ambiguity in the text, an issue which will be discussed further on in the paper. Oscar belongs to more than one collective, and while the dreams of the diaspora have a strong hold on him, he also participates in a distinctly American experience—the public school system. Here too he becomes a parigüayo, even when he returns to teach after graduating from college. Despite his authority as a teacher, Oscar cannot fight the collective mindset of the school, where “every day he watched the ‘cool’ kids torture the crap out of the fat, the ugly, the smart, the poor, the dark, the black, the unpopular, the African, the Indian, the Arab, the immigrant, the strange, the feminine, the gay— and in every one of those clashes he saw himself” (264). Oscar identifies strongly as the “Other,” as the experience of being denied a

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Dominican identity creates an affinity in Oscar for all who suffer like him. Collectives, whether white, black, straight, popular, rich, or otherwise, operate with certain logics of exclusion that eliminate anyone who does not fit the collective identity as historically imagined. Oscar realizes this, although perhaps only subconsciously. The first summer he goes to the Dominican Republic, he writes two novels “about a young man fighting mutants at the end of the world (neither of them survive)” (32). The first chapter in Oscar Wao is entitled “Ghetto Nerd at the End of the World,” a connection that makes Oscar’s first two books more autobiographical than sciencefiction. Oscar is the “Other” and denied possession of one of the most basic building blocks of identity—“tú non eres nada de dominicano”—but in his novels, those imposing the collective logic, whether Dominican or otherwise, are the “mutants” (11, 164). However, like the two characters in his novels, Oscar does not survive in the end of the novel. Oscar’s writing reveals a wishful inversion of the logic forced on him by his diasporic and adolescent identities. The history a collective produces leaves silences as voices are excluded from history. Multiple silences permeate the text of Oscar Wao as Díaz, via Yunior, confronts one of the most fundamental questions for historiography: how does one account for the silence of sources? How does narration elide, and in many instances obscure, the chasm between the known and the unknown? Yunior’s narration highlights and problematizes this tension throughout Oscar Wao, yet he rarely acknowledges his own elisions and rewritings. In many ways, an unrecoverable silence acts as the impetus for the entire novel, the story of “Abelard and the Bad thing he said about Trujillo” which the de Leóns identify as their origin story (211). While Yunior suggests other moments for the de Leóns to trace their beginnings, such as when “the Spaniard’s ‘discovered’ the New World—or when the U.S. invaded Santo Domingo in 1916,” he acknowledges that they are free to trace their origins to this moment, asking “who am I to question their historiography?” (211). Here Yunior astutely points out that in a text so vitally concerned with collective beginnings, the de Léons insistence on locating their origin

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story with Abelard creates other silences, stories left untold, and connections left unmade. However, these silences are peripheral to the silence at the heart of the de Léon’s story, “did Abelard say [the Bad thing], did he not? (Which is another way of asking: Did he have a hand in his own destruction?)” (242-3). Yunior’s complaints draws the reader’s attention to the similarities between the “discovery” of the New World, the invasion of Santo Domingo and the Bad thing that Abelard said. While the moments Yunior suggests as points of origin are more universal and collective, they are similar to the de León’s choice because at the center of these events lies an unrecoverable moment of silence. In each instance, the reader is left to ponder motives and maybes, to search for meaning where none presents itself. The unattainable quest for the de León’s beginnings finds textual expression in the missing writings of Abelard Cabral. As Yunior points out, rumors circulating before Abelard’s death suggested that he was writing a book about Trujillo’s supernatural powers (245). When Abelard finally does pass away, all the books and items in his personal library are destroyed, to the extent that “not one single example of his handwriting remains” (246). Yunior skeptically reasons, “I mean, OK. Trujillo was thorough. But not one scrap of paper with his handwriting? That was more than thorough [....] But hey, it’s only a story, with no solid evidence, the kind of shit only a nerd could love” (246). Yunior suggests a different point of origin for the family’s downfall, located in Abelard’s misguided attempt to expose “the supernatural roots of the Trujillo regime” (245). As Yunior reveals multiple reasons why Trujillo wanted Abelard dead— including his desire to sleep with Abelard’s daughter, the “Bad thing” Abelard said, or the book Abelard was writing about Trujillo’s supernatural powers—the story of the de Leóns becomes a meditation on the complexity of untangling historical truth(s). The silence of sources is complete; the history of the de León family turns out to be “the kind of shit only a nerd could love” —that is, science fiction or fantasy. The erasure of any “official” history denies Abelard even his final resting place. When Oscar visits Santo Domingo the final time,

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he goes to the site where Abelard was imprisoned and died, but there is “nothing to report [....] the government was supposed to have erected a plaque to the dead of Nigüa Prison, but they never did” (251). The combination of official denial and uncertain family lore reiterates the complex, fantastical production of history that permeates the pages of Oscar Wao. By providing multiple storylines for the de León family, Oscar Wao questions a teleological, linear version of historical production and embraces the chaotic process of historical production evident throughout the novel. Yunior’s own narrative, essentially the entire novel, offers another glimpse into the fraught dynamics of historical production. A brief but powerful example comes late in the book, when Oscar meets Ybón. Yunior acknowledges the unlikeliness of Oscar meeting a woman like Ybón, asking for the reader’s collusion, begging: “can’t we believe that an Ybón can exist and that a brother like Oscar might be due a little luck after twenty-three years?” (285). After pleading with the reader to follow his chosen version of events, Yunior offers them a final choice: to suspend disbelief and buy into his world, or to continue believing that a woman like Ybón could not exist. Yunior’s offer comes in terms of a choice between two realities, the Matrix, or the world beyond: “This is your chance. If red pill, continue. If blue pill, return to the Matrix” (285). Four pages later, a rare moment occurs as La Inca, Oscar’s grandmother, disputes Yunior’s version of how Oscar met Ybón. She complains that “he didn’t meet her on the street like he told you. His cousins, los idiotas, took him to a cabaret and that’s where he first saw her” (289). The reader, having been offered a version of the story that Yunior swore was true, or truer, runs headlong into the obstacle of La Inca’s testimony. Later, Yunior will attempt to erase the ambiguity of these versions. Indeed, Yunior’s production of the de León family history becomes increasingly suspect throughout the novel. Elena Machado Sáez warns of Yunior’s totalizing power over the narrative, stating that: If the reader accepts Yunior’s narrative without question, without interrogating Yunior’s narrative authority, without asking how Yunior’s desires and

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values shape the moral lessons implied by the ending, then we are left with a curse of our own—the curse of ignorance concerning how our own desires leave us vulnerable to the dictations of others. (551) As demonstrated by the episode above, Yunior’s conviction that he is writing “a true account of the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”(285) does not necessarily mean that it is the truest, or only account of Oscar’s life. Yunior, like anyone dealing with the production of history, tells one version of events, sharing with the reader that he hopes this book might be “a zafa of sorts. My very own counterspell” (7). Forgetting Yunior’s purpose in writing Oscar Wao only draws the reader further into blind acceptance of his version of events. While the entire text is marked by silence, there is a particular textual silence which haunts the final pages of the novel, where the image of a blank book, held by a mysterious masked man, appears to both Oscar and Yunior in their dreams, (330). Yunior discovers that the masked man is Oscar, although, as he writes, “it takes me a while before I notice that Oscar’s hands are seamless and the book’s pages are blank. And that behind his mask his eyes are smiling. Zafa” (325). The evocative image of the blank book provides an excellent reminder of how easily sources disappear and texts become effaced. However, it also suggests the potential of the written word to fill the blank book, constructing new versions of history. This (re)visioning of history opens up new avenues for exploration. As historical fantasy, Oscar Wao fills in the blank spaces of the historical book with imaginative narrative, creating a rich textual experience that meditates on the immigrant experience and the production of history. At the end of his chapter, “The Power in the Story,” Trouillot writes the following of historical silences: “any historical narrative is a particular bundle of silences, the result of a unique process, and the operation required to deconstruct these silences will vary accordingly” (27). Here Trouillot speaks directly to a type of historical works which he differentiates from the work of fiction. However, his comment might be more broadly interpreted to include

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historical fiction as one of the methods for deconstructing historical silences. The Farming of Bones certainly addresses the question of giving voice to those who whose voices are not recoverable through traditional historical methods. As such, Danticat’s text evokes a moving portrayal of history that attempts to honor those who are typically silenced. Díaz’s work also explores the silences at the heart of historical production through the use of imaginative genres like science fiction and fantasy. Although these two texts differ greatly in their approaches to history, they share many similarities in their nuanced treatment of the difficulties inherent in historical narration and both novels add to the voices surrounding academic historical production in vital ways. Lepore, Trouillot, and White are all right in their own way: fiction and history each express certain truths that cannot be replicated by the other. However, only when one acknowledges that neither history nor fiction holds a monopoly on truth can the process of historical production reach its fullest potential. Works Cited Avelar, Idelber. “From Plato to Pinochet: Torture, Confession, and the History of Truth.” The Letter of Violence: Essays on Narrative, Ethics, and Politics. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004. 25-49. Print. Baker-Cristales, Beth. Salvadoran Migration to Southern California: Redefining El Hermano Lejano. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004. Print. Danticat, Edwidge. The Farming of Bones. New York: Penguin, 1998. Print. ---. “Junot Diaz.” Bomb 101 (2007). Web. Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007. Hanna, Monica. “‘Reassembling the Fragments’: Battling Historiographies, Caribbean Discourse, and Nerd Genres in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”Callaloo 33.2 (2010): 498-520. Literature Online. Web.

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Lepore, Jill. "'Just the Fact, Ma'am: Fake memoirs, factual fictions, and the history of history.'" Editorial. The New Yorker. Web. 4 Mar. 2009. Sáez, Elena Machado. “Dictating Desire, Dictating Diaspora: Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as Foundational Romance.” Contemporary Literature 52.3 (2011): 522-55. Literature Online. Web. Saldívar, Ramón. “Historical Fantasy, Speculative Realism, and Postrace Aesthetics in Contemporary American Fiction.” American Literary History 23.3 (2011): 574-99. Literature Online. Web. Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. “The Power in the Story.” Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995. 1-30. Print. Turits, Richard Lee. “A World Destroyed, A Nation Imposed: The 1937 Haitian Massacre in the Dominican Republic.” Hispanic American Historical Review 82.3 (August 2002): 589-635. EBSCO. Web. White, Hayden. “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality.” The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1987. 1-25. Print.

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Inside Roots Tourism and Narratives of History Placing Roots Tourism in Dialogue with Black Women’s NeoSlave Narratives DOMINIQUE SWANN At once, observing, holding itself to, surviving, and subsisting beyond the event to which it bears witnessing its decision for, and so, in part, belatedly calling into existence the catastrophic truth event it brings to light while also calling into being a body of judges, arbiters, addressees it desires to bear witness to the witness it has born; setting itself the impossible task of bearing witness for the witness and asking its readers to inhabit the same experience of the impossible; simultaneous testifying to the unjust past it names and serving as the frontispiece to the just future it hopes to fashion by passing on to that future the melancholy property it has taken in the past. - Ian Baucom, Specters of the Atlantic Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots. - 2pac, “Keep Ya Head Up” However we interpret the past, we are really trying to understand ourselves. It is ironic that the images we project of African women are often as one-dimensional as many mainstream images of AfricanAmerican women. Too often we look to Africa only for what light it might shed on us, with little concern for what African complexities might mean for Africans. - E. Frances White, Dark Continent of Our Bodies

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On July 11, 2009, President Obama and his family visited Ghana’s infamous Cape Coast Castle. Following his trip, President Obama reflected on what the trip meant to him: “As Americans, and as African Americans obviously there’s a . . . special sense that on the one hand this place was a place of profound sadness. . . . On the other hand, it is here where the journey of much of the African American experience began” (Tapper). Just miles from the Cape Coast Castle site stands another slave port that seems to rest on the horizon. It is Elmina Castle. Just before tourists enter Elmina, they pass a plaque that reads, “In everlasting memory of the anguish of our ancestors. May those who died rest in peace. May those who return find their roots. May humanity never again perpetrate such injustice against humanity. We the living vow to uphold this [emphasis added]” (as cited in Holsey 182). A United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) initiative called “The Slave Route Project” has deemed both castles primary historical sites of the transatlantic slave trade in Africa. “The Slave Route Project” was initiated in 1994 in an effort to preserve, as well as conserve, slave trade and slavery landmarks. On “The Slave Route Project” webpage a caption reads, “Remnants of an often hidden past, memorial sites, monuments and places linked to the slave trade and slavery bear tangible witness to that history and provide a memorial itinerary in the regions and countries marked by that tragedy” (“World Heritage Center”). President Obama's reflection, Elmina's plaque, and UNESCO's Slave Route Project all express controversial ideas about roots, bearing witness, and historical memory with respect to the transatlantic slave trade. UNESCO and other organizations such as the Smithsonian have funded restoration projects for slavery landmarks to conjure up “an often hidden past” so that the public can “bear tangible witness” to the history of slavery. Why tangible? Katharina Schramm explains why UNESCO has decided to use “tangible” as a qualifier to better describe the act of bearing witness at sites like Elmina and the Cape Coast Castle:

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UNESCO has mounted an entire new programme on the concept of intangible cultural riches. In this framework, ‘intangible heritage’ is defined as part of a living culture that entails a strong link with the past through a transmission and constant recreation from generation to generation. It is said to provide communities and groups with a sense of identity and community in the face of the homogenizing forces of globalization. (79) Schramm disagrees with how UNESCO's Slave Route Project commits its restoration efforts to bearing "tangible" witness and concludes that it is, in fact, an "intangible" cultural enterprise. However, both expressions, “bear tangible witness” and “intangible heritage,” mark an ideological shift. Taken together, they suggest how bearing witness has its limits, both in terms of accessing the past and in the narratives it generates. In other words, bearing witness is to an extent intangible. For example, a tourist at a slave castle cannot travel back in time to experience or witness enslaved persons being taken through the “Door of No Return.” UNESCO’s language carefully positions slave sites as existing independently of roots and heritage rhetoric. Schramm suggests that roots tourism rhetoric has a way of perpetuating a homogenized historical narrative that centers only on those who are in search of their roots. And yet, President Obama’s reflection on visiting the Cape Coast Castle does not seem to fall in line with UNESCO’s attempts to minimize that issue. In spite of UNESCO’s attempts, has roots tourism contributed to the “homogenizing forces of globalization”? How might the roots tourism industry in Ghana and elsewhere resist promoting dominant historical narratives of the West? To answer these questions, I trace contemporary critical discourse on roots tourism in Africa. The discourse largely explores two aspects: (1) how tourists of the African diaspora, especially African Americans, have shown a growing interest in visiting

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Ghanaian slave sites and (2) why these tourists have visited the sites in an attempt to better understand their cultural identity. Most scholars that I engage have also examined how roots tourism has been successful at targeting African Americans and exploiting their growing desire to reconstruct historical landmarks as places where they can trace their roots in “the motherland.” My paper focuses most of its attention on contemporary discourse of diaspora tourism because its theoretical strains have interrogated time and space in order to challenge the widely accepted view that tourists can bear witness to the transatlantic slave trade. My paper maps and critically engages several arguments by Saidiya Hartman, Katharina Schramm, Sandra L. Richards, Salamishah Tillet, and Bayo Holsey. In doing so, I show how they question one of roots tourism’s major tenets, which is that tourists can bear witness to the slave trade in hopes of tracing one’s roots back to Africa. Oddly enough, roots tourism and contemporary Black women’s fiction inform each other. Although operating in different cultural spaces, both exploit narrative and history in similar fashions. More specifically, the roots tourism industry and Black women’s fiction have a long but complicated history of invoking the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in narrative. This link has been largely unexplored in and out of the academy. The second half of my paper interrogates how both roots tourism and Black women’s neoslave narratives negotiate the history of slavery through narrative. What does it mean when writers have made a literary ‘return’ to slavery? Might this literary return mimic the literal return of diasporic tourists who are in search of their roots? If so, what is revealed in putting contemporary Black women writers’ contemporary narratives of slavery up against dominant historical narratives of roots tourism? I briefly review two novels written by Black women writers of the diaspora: Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench (2010) and Andrea Levy’s The Long Song (2010). It is through these texts that much is revealed about what roots tourism does and does not do with the historical narrative of the slave trade. In light of roots tourism discourse, I contend that their novels suggest how bearing witness to slavery’s past is impossible, and the texts also suggest a

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shift towards privileging multiple historical narratives of slavery at once, however complicated. I am particularly interested in the ways that scholars deconstruct notions of the past to arrive at a deeper understanding of how roots tourism negotiates and exploits the narrative history of slavery. In this section, it will become clear that an interdisciplinary examination of the scholarship under consideration point to how diaspora tourists have a false sense of the past. As Saidiya Hartman intimates in "The Time of Slavery," roots tourism in Africa is predicated on a limited notion of time. Roots tourism's construction of the past, she argues, is merely that. What then are tourists bearing witness to when they visit slave castles? Whatever it is that they might be bearing witness to might have nothing to do with roots or heritage at all. Hartman examines roots tourism from an African American tourist’s perspective. She writes, "Longing and loss figure centrally in the strategies of roots tourism--the loss of one’s origins, authentic African names, progenitors, and ancestral land all act as impetus to visit shop and purchase"(Hartman 760). "Tourism slakes longing, exploits loss," Hartman concludes, "and proffers a cure by enabling cathartic and tearful engagements with the era of the slave trade” (760). Hartman points out that the roots tourism industry has constructed and exploited the narrative of "longing and loss" that diasporic subjects endure. Industry capitalizes on tourists’ longing for roots and their loss of ancestry. Slave sites themselves are often paid attractions where the history of the slave trade becomes a commodity to be bought and consumed. Elmina and Cape Coast Castle are landmarks of slavery that have a history connected to the slave trade but have a major stake in the contemporary Ghanaian economy. In other words, tourism pretends to connect people to their cultural history even when it is visible a business that has very real effects on the present economy. What does it mean to construct a narrative about the past that will have economic weight in the present? Once one has paid admission, they embark on a finely crafted tour that presents a historical narrative of the past. That past stresses the ills of the slavery--crimes committed against humanity--only to then construct a connection between the tourist and her/his African roots. Hartman

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suggests that we should regard this particular type of tourism skeptically because it has commercial and economic ties. Ghana is home to one of the world's most bustling roots tourism industries. Slave castles and dungeons along the coast have a sacred presence about them but are visible reminders of the slave trade. Nevertheless, Katharina Schramm notes, "Between 1992 and 1998 alone, the number of hotels in Ghana rose from 509 to 730. In the same period, tourist revenues increased from 166.90 to 283.96 million U.S. dollars" (Schramm 93). A quick glance at the more recent "Tourism Statistical Factsheet on Ghana" proves that the country has raked in 986.8 million US dollars in 2006 alone. Even though the tourism industry plays a significant role in Ghana's economic development, roots tourism is a deeply complex operation. African American tourists visiting slave sites are often in search of their roots. However, Hartman contends that they experience what she calls a "belated encounter": "fabricated and belated encounters with slavery enable a revisiting of the past only fleetingly visible in the unabashed contemporaneity of Africa, recovering origins in the context of commercial transactions and exchanges, and experiencing the wonder and welcome made possible by the narratives of return� (Hartman 760). For some, this return might be motivated by a desire to "articulat[e] the disfigured promises of the present, that is, equality, freedom from discrimination, the abolition of the badges of slavery� (763). When tourists are caught within the circumstances of the present--between capitalism and "black life in the post-civil rights era"--how exactly are they identifying with the past (760)? Hartman argues: One has come too late to recuperate an authentic identity or to establish one’s kinship with a place or people. Ultimately these encounters or journeys occur too late, far too long after the event, to be considered a return. In short, returning home is not possible. Nor is this an encounter with Africa in its contemporaneity, the present is eclipsed by an earlier moment--the event

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of captivity and the experience of enslavement in the Americas. (762-763) As tourists bear witness to the transatlantic slave trade at sites, they think they are "returning home" when it is, in fact, impossible. She makes it clear that tourists cannot travel back in time and that their visits fall short of a “return” because they cannot bear witness to the past. It is not possible for them to "establish one's kinship with a place or people" because the time has passed. That is, the time of the slave trade has passed. That time is history. Yet, in light of roots tourism rhetoric, "We are encouraged to see ourselves as the vessels for the captive's return; we stand in the ancestor’s shoes. We imaginatively witness the crimes of the past and cry for those victimized--the enslaved, the ravaged, and the slaughtered” (Hartman 767). Since tourists can't travel back in time to bear witness to what they consider to be their ancestor's experience, the memories conjured up are much more so about the present and African Americans' relationship to America in the present than they are about identifying one’s ties to African history. Thus, Hartman concludes, "Africa serves merely as a mirror that refracts the United States” (764). Hence, when President Obama reflects on his visit to Cape Coast Castle he talks about what the tour means within an American context and what it means for African Americans. He glosses over what the site and tour might communicate about Africans in general and Ghanaians in particular. What is Africa’s historical narrative about the slave trade, and why is it marginalized? Schramm describes precisely what I am getting at: "As the Ghanaian state takes up the rhetoric of pilgrimage, it pushes African American interpretations of history to the fore. At the same time, there is hardly any discussion on a national level or the significance of that history for Ghanaian society" (Schramm 92). Americans, particularly African Americans, who attempt to salvage history by way of the transatlantic slave trade do so in ways that undermine Africa's history. Whereas Hartman interrogates ideas about time as they relate to African American tourists and the roots tourism industry, scholar Bayo Holsey explores how roots tourism narratives affect Ghanaian

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society. Her anthropological study Routes of Remembrance: Refashioning the Slave Trade in Ghana (2008) largely explores how Ghanaians regard the slave trade in their historical memory. Particularly striking about her work is how she amplifies the complexities of roots tourism, suggesting that the industry proposes multiple narratives that are, in fact, fluid. Unlike Hartman, she looks at what Ghana's slave castles symbolize to both Ghanaians and diaspora tourists to see how it troubles the roots tourism industry's attempt to negotiate the history of slavery. Holsey, who spent years in Ghana conducting research, reports this about her experience going on slave castle tours: "The structure of each tour varied depending on the tour guide and the audience. Tour guides altered their presentations significantly according to whether the audience was composed of whites, Ghanaians, or blacks from the diaspora" (Holsey 181). Within the castles themselves there are many narratives at work, not just the narrative of roots. Holsey makes clear that there are many ways in which narratives of the Transatlantic slave trade appear. What tourists encounter at these landmarks depends on the sheer makeup of the touring group. In this way, tour guides could serve as agents who challenge the dominant narrative of African American roots in addition to the "constructions of diasporic identity" (180181). At slave sites, then, we should not assume that these are sites where Western narratives overshadow other global narratives. Although Hartman pays close attention to how these spaces reproduce and reiterate the questionable narrative of return that undermines Africa's present, Holsey shows how slave sites are sometimes spaces where new discussions about Africa's past can emerge. Still, the narrative that the tour guide tells is likely based on presumptions about each group, which is highly problematic. For example, if a group of blacks from the diaspora take a tour it is highly likely that the tour guide will highlight the slave trade and ancestry. What remains clear, though, is that African American and Ghanaians view and approach the past differently. While diaspora tourists might privilege the slave trade narrative over other narratives, Ghanaians might not privilege it at all: "They did not offer stories about what once transpired in the castles' dungeons but rather

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suggested that this history has been forgotten" (2). To many Ghanaians, the castle's past is not associated with the slave trade. The Cape Coast Castle, for example, "was once considered to be a sacred space in the local cosmography" (160). Holsey notes that in the earlier days of Ghana's roots tourism industry the Castle had been used as post office as well as a tourist site. She notes, "The castle simultaneously served as an administrative space, tourist space, and sacred space during this period" (160). How do we attempt to make sense of the slave site's many functions? Also, we should consider how the dominant narrative of the Transatlantic slave trade seems to forgo acknowledging that there were African slave traders and how that complicates dominant narratives of the past. Holsey explores this in her study and notes that "even when confronted with the horrors of the slave trade, [Ghanaians] do not identify with its victims, viewing it instead as the history of others" (184). Despite that: On the African continent, slavery existed for an even longer period, alongside the transatlantic network as well as independent of it. In royal armies and courts as well as in agriculture, slaves constituted a major workforce. Especially after the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and the huge surplus in slaves resulting from it, many slaves were incorporated into their African masters' families. (Schramm 71) In Ghana, "coastal residents erase the slave trade from narrative" (Holsey 105). Holsey asserts that coastal residents implicate Northern Ghana for its dealings in the slave trade. It remains clear that despite Ghanaian tensions the slave trade slavery holds a significant place in the country's history. We must consider how these complexities affect our understanding of this history and prompt an interpretative scheme that embraces global histories. How might Ghana's roots tourism industry work toward propagating historical narratives that pin down the complexities of the slave trade within local and global histories? Ghanaians, in fact, do not regard the slave trade in the way

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that diaspora tourists do. Might it be that roots tourism has constructed the past in such a way that it silences Africa’s history of slavery? In many ways, this troubling of Ghanaian and diasporean history that Holsey addresses becomes even more complicated when Sandra L. Richards uses performance theory to make sense of what roots tourism attempts to symbolize. In "What is to Be Remembered? Tourism to Ghana's Slave Castle-Dungeons," Richards makes a statement that complicates Hartman and Holsey's arguments: "Ghana, and by extension Africa as a whole seems situated in a chronological period in which time has either stopped, or the past is identical to the present" (Richards 636). The transatlantic slave trade in having impacted Africans as much as it impacted those of the diaspora, more than likely means something for the global present. As Hartman notes, "the past is neither remote nor distant and that Africa is seen, if at all, through the backward glance or hindsight" (Hartman 763). This is problematic because it privileges one dominant historical narrative over another, which then calls into question the extent to which the slave trade had and still has global effects. Hartman suggests that African American tourists regard Africa's past only insofar as it concerns the slave trade. Richards, then, contends that slave castles are sites where the present is merely an extension of the present, and time has, indeed, stopped. If bearing witness or even "bearing tangible" witness was possible, Richards's argument disrupts this notion altogether. "While the tourist has a variety of roles in which she can imagine herself prior to arrival," Richards writes, "on the castle-dungeon grounds she is both spectator and actor, alternating between distanced observation, and imaginative self-identification" (Richards 622). She continues, "As spectator, she has paid for the privilege of looking at and photographing everything and everyone within her field of vision" (622). "As actor," she explains, "she moves through a space that, given its sometimes constraining physical dimensions and coupled with the impact of the guide's narrations, transform into an antagonistic environment" (622). Richards's description tells us about a particular kind of tourist. It just so happens that in what Richards

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articulates the diaspora tourists are at once performing within the roots tourism rhetoric and abiding by it. That they can maintain "distanced observation" means that they are tied to one idea about how the present signifies progress for them--they are literally distanced from the slave trade just by nature of being diaspora tourists. Their roots to Africa allow them to lay claim to an "imaginative self-identification" in identifying some connection to the slave trade. The space's confines and the experience of that confinement is one way in which tourists become actors, recreating and re-imagining the moment all at once. Notice that the tourists' performance has nothing to do with the castle's complicated history that Holsey so carefully details in her study. These tourists and the ways in which they perform in accordance with what roots tourism imagines for them perpetuates a silence about Ghanaian history. This is not to say that we should condemn roots tourism for its insistence on preserving one narrative of the slave trade. But, we should be mindful of the kinds of misleading narratives generated and circulated on the part of roots tourism. The politics of memory are tricky. Still, in how roots tourism produces narratives that reinforce a Western hegemony and undermine global history, it places Ghanaians outside of history and Africa when they are as much the arbiters of history as the greater African diaspora. "Memory serves a presentist agenda, even though its subject is the past," writes Ariela Gross. Much like the diaspora tourists whose "presentist agenda" mediate their very limited view of the Transatlantic slave trade, twenty-first century Black women writers have crafted contemporary narratives of slavery, also referred to as "neo-slave narratives," to renegotiate and comment on the past. However, they are doing so in ways that are profoundly different than other neo-slave narratives like Toni Morrison's Beloved. Dolen Perkins-Valdez's Wench: A Novel and Andrea Levy's The Long Song are two novels that use satire and irony to think through the past. In their satirical engagement, they suggest that accessing the past might be impossible and that memory, especially historical memory, though pertinent to making sense of one's cultural identity, has limitations. They hint at how the present and past are connected, but they suggest

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that, in many ways, bearing witness to the past is impossible. In this way, the texts are sites where Black women writers negotiate the many narratives of slavery and the slave trade, resisting merely bearing witness to slavery's horrors. Wench is a novel set in the Antebellum and details the lives of four enslaved women who accompany their masters to a vacation resort in free-territory Ohio every summer. Perkins-Valdez's protagonist, Lizzie, has a romantic relationship with her master Drayle. Drayle, though married, seduces Lizzie at an early age, and they remain secret lovers for years even though she is technically his property. He fathers two of her children and grants her special privileges that other slaves never get. Perkins-Valdez complicates the traditional master-slave relationship in ways that are quite ironic in the neo-slave narrative genre. Although there are exceptions, Black women’s neo-slave narratives usually maintain the power dynamics of the master-slave relationship by depicting it in terms of physical and psychological abuse. Neo-slave narratives like Beloved by Toni Morrison and Kindred by Octavia Butler hold close to that depiction. Wench’s Lizzie, on the other hand, unsettles the power dynamics of master-slave relations when she feels as though and acts as if Drayle is her man. One of Wench’s most telling moments occurs fairly early in the novel when Lizzie and another enslaved woman named Mawu are having a conversation. Lizzie tells her, “I like having a vacation like the white folks. And I like getting to spend time with my man” (Perkins-Valdez 15). Mawu responds matter-of-factly: “He not your man, you know” (15). The rest of the narrative follows Lizzie in the years leading up to the Civil War, but Perkins-Valdez ensures that readers never lose sight of her protagonist’s love for “her man,” who also happens to be her “master,” and the intimate moments that they share together. Readers also learn that Drayle shares Lizzie's feelings: "He loved her, and he was afraid she would leave him. . . . His beloved Lizzie. The mother of his children” (66). If we imagine the possibility of the enslaved woman loving her master (and vice versa), of her loving him, then readers and critics alike must rethink the words “master” and “slave.” For a “master” to love a “slave,” is wholly ironic if we agree that the relationship is one in which the

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“master” owns the “slave.” Perkins-Valdez's representation complicates familiar narratives about masters relationships with enslaved women, suggesting that the line that distinguishes the "master "from the "slave" is not so rigid. Through Lizzie and Drayle, Perkins-Valdez imagines a world where the master-slave relationship collapses on itself. In returning to the Antebellum and ironically transforming the master-slave relationship, she questions the extent to which dominant narratives of slavery give us a full and accurate picture of the past. Perkins-Valdez re-imagines the past and in her re-imagining prompts readers to interrogate a presumed relationship between masters and enslaved women. Her depiction brings ironies to the fore. The way that she imagines the ironic relationship as that which is fluid--sometimes Lizzie is a wench in her commitment to sexual servitude and other times she is a wife in how she operates within public and privates spaces at the resort--she resists the narrative impulse to construct one cohesive narrative. Such a return to the past does not present one particular historical view but shows the past's complexities. In all its complexities and ironies, it would seem, then, that attempting to merely bear witness to the past is not the most productive way to understand how history affects the present. Neo-slave narratives published during the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s looked at slavery in a serious way. Those novels also conjure up that past with a determination to confront it. In paying close attention to the many peculiarities of the “Peculiar Institution,” the texts were seen as sites of memory and healing. Twenty-first century texts like Wench resists healing though invoking slavery’s history. Instead, they unsettle dominant narratives, as Perkins-Valdez does in reconstructing the master-slave relationship. Like roots tourism, neo-slave narratives rely on historical narratives to arrive at a deeper truth about the past. They both imply that there is a connection between the past and present. However, roots tourism has gone wrong in that it has perpetuated one narrative of history that centers on the diaspora’s relationship to Africa, undermining Africa’s place in a global history. Black women’s neo-slave narratives of the twenty-first century reject bearing witness to the past but do trouble dominant narratives of the

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past like. Narratives like Wench are sure to question the past by complicating the present through depicting alternative narratives. Perhaps it is this model that roots tourism could follow more closely, one that does not over-privilege bearing witness in ways that further one-dimensional narratives and reject complicated global histories. Similar to Wench, Levy's The Long Song attempts to travel back to the time of slavery. But Levy adds something new to the neoslave narrative genre. While many neo-slave narratives center on American slavery, Levy sets her novel in Jamaica. Levy, a Black British writer, offers readers a narrative that has been largely marginalized. The Long Song unveils British involvement in Caribbean slavery. The novel follows the story of July--renamed Marguerite--as she is born into slavery and lives through rebellions and imminent abolition. However, this is not without a complex level of mediation. July writes her narrative as a memoir, and her son Thomas, a publisher, may carry on her the memories of slavery by publishing her memoir. Levy wants to incite dialogue about Britain's role in the institution of slavery. In uncovering and recovering Britain's involvement, Levy cleverly uses satire to spice up her narrative. Several parts in the novel are highly farcical and satirical. Although July is supposed to narrate the time of slavery, the narrator throws readers for a loop. The narrator calls her story "a tale of [her] making," implying that in some ways her narrative might be mere fiction (Levy 10). July, though claiming to tell a factual story, realizes that a wholly factual story might not be possible. Because July exaggerates her story quite a bit and cares little for historical gaps, some readers might grow tired of her insistence on being an unreliable narrator. July’s son sure does. He constantly questions the accuracy of her narrative whenever she misses or downplays major historical events. For example, the Baptist War ensues one night during dinner, but July refuses to narrate this wellknown event. She explains, “The reason I have little to advise upon these truths is within the nature of those olden times; for news did not travel as it does today. Most was carried upon the breath of ragged little boys who once having run far with the tale then struggled to recall it while you fed them some yam. Or it was passed upon the

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gossips-breeze” (90). She recommends that if her readers “desire a fuller account of what happened during this time” they should consult George Dovaston’s Facts and Documents Connected with the Great Slave Rebellion of Jamaica. Even as she recommends this text, she reminds readers that “[a]lthough nothing that appears within this minister’s pages was witnessed by my eye, and what my eye did see at the time does not appear in this man’s report, my son assures me that this account is very good” (90). July’s and Dovaston’s texts are two historical narratives that, though contradictory, operate at once. Levy’s July cannot does not bear witness to the rebellion and cannot provide a “fuller account” about the event itself. Bearing witness through narrative becomes highly problematic in Levy’s novel. The past, at least as Levy suggests in Long Song, is that which is remediated and is that in which subjects like July cannot bear witness to. July’s son privileges a hegemonic narrative history over her personal account even though both of these accounts are representations of the past. Because the protagonist's story undermines larger historical narratives, the novel challenges familiar constructed narratives of the past. It is almost as if Levy’s Thomas mirrors the roots tourism industry in how he demands the “fuller account” that details only the pivotal events. Roots tourism, as we have seen, is also preoccupied in a single event--the transatlantic slave trade. To place other narratives-however localized, however contradictory--in dialogue with larger events could bring Africa back from the margins, placing it at the very center. Levy’s novel considers those moments of slavery that were not so dark, giving us the laughter and complexity at once. Nevertheless, the novel itself comments on the limitations of the past. Regardless of how much dominant narratives of history force themselves onto July's story, she resists them proudly. From the present, Levy engages history in such a way that many narratives operate all at once and even in contradictory ways. Taken together, Wench and The Long Song are narrative sites that return to slavery but do not to bear witness to some simple truth about the past so that readers can reflect upon that truth’s relevance in the present. Instead,

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they unsettle the truth and dominant historical narratives so that readers may better approach the past with complexity in mind. Both Wench and The Long Song are exemplary texts that renegotiate slavery in ways that resist the dominant discourse on the topic and could serve as a better model for how roots tourism renegotiates the slave trade. When viewed in light of each other, roots tourism and Black women’s neo-slave narratives open up many exciting discussions about the preservation of the transatlantic slave trade across cultures, across countries, and across sites. In any case, I have attempted to use recent scholarship in roots tourism discourse as a theoretical framework to point out the larger conceptual flaws within the roots tourism industry. According to the research I have examined in this paper, the industry both exploits tourists in varying degrees and often marginalizes localized narratives. Another scholar reiterates my point: “‘Africa’ becomes fixed in the pre-colonial slave trade and the Back to Africa discourse in which ‘slave fort’ and ‘African’ are interchangeable signifiers for the African Diaspora political identities” (Tillet 139). The transatlantic slave trade, though in many ways situated in the distant past, persists into the present through imagination. Whether through the slave site or the neo-slave narrative, the history of slavery is very much alive. The goal, then, is to make the complexities of that history available and to make it available without privileging one historical narrative of slavery over another and to be honest about our distance from the past. Works Cited 2Pac. "Keep Ya Head Up." Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. Interscope, 1993. CD. Anquandah, James, Naana J. Opoku-Agyemang, and Michel Doortmont. The Transatlantic Slave Trade: Landmarks, Legacies, Expectations: Proceedings of the International Conference on Historic Slave Route Held at Accra, Ghana on 30 August-2 September 2004. Accra, Ghana: Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2007. Print.

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Baucom, Ian. Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005. Print. Bomani2007. "President Obama in Ghana at the Cape Coast Dungeons Pt. 1-2." Youtube. 19 July 2009. Web. 10 Dec. 2012 ---. "President Obama in Ghana at the Cape Coast Dungeons Pt. 2-2." Youtube. 19 July 2009. Web. 10 Dec. 2012 Bruner, Edward M. "Tourism in Ghana." American Anthropologist 98.2 (1996): 290-304. Print. Butler, Beverley. "'Taking on a Tradition': African Heritage and the Testimony of Memory." de Jong and Rowlands: 31-69. de Jong, Ferdinand and M J. Rowlands. Reclaiming Heritage: Alternative Imaginaries of Memory in West Africa. Walnut Creek, Calif: Left Coast Press, 2007. Print. Dei, L.A and Kwaku Boakye. "Developing the Slave Route for Tourism--Communit Dynamics, Policy Implications and Strategies for the Root Tourism Product." Anquandah, OpokuAgyeman, and Doortmont: 347-356. Ghana Tourism Board."Tourism Statistical Fact Sheet on Ghana." 2007. PDF file. Gross, Ariela. "When Is the Time of Slavery? The History of Slavery in Contemporary Legal and Political Argument." California Law Review 96.1 (2008): 283-321. Print. Hartman, Saidiya V. "The Time of Slavery." The South Atlantic Quarterly 101.4 (2002): 757-777. Print. Holsey, Bayo. Routes of Remembrance: Refashioning the Slave Trade in Ghana. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. Print. Levy, Andrea. The Long Song. New York: Picador, 2010. Print. Osei-Tutu, Brempong. "Transformations and Disjunctures in the Homeland: African American Experiences in Ghana." Anquandah, Opoku-Agyeman, and Doortmont: 326-342. Perkins-Valdez, Dolen. Wench: A Novel. New York: Amistad, 2010. Print. Richards, Sandra L. "What Is to Be Remembered?: Tourism to Ghana's Slave Castle-Dungeons."Theatre Journal 57.4 (2005): 617-637. Print.

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Schramm, Katharina. "Slave Route Projects: Tracing the Heritage of Slavery in Ghana." de Jong and Rowlands: 71-98. Tapper, Jake, Karen Travers, and Sunlen Miller. "An Emotional President Obama Tours Former Slave Port with Family." ABC News. ABC News, 11 July 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. Tillet, Salamishah. "In the Shadow of the Castle:(Trans) Nationalism, African American Tourism, and GorĂŠe Island." Research in African Literatures 40.4 (2009): 122-141. Print. White, E Frances. Dark Continent of Our Bodies: Black Feminism and the Politics of Respectability. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001. Print

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“Can’t forget the pleasure, the joy” The Gothic Negative and Irréversible GINA DOMINICK Situations of torment, and images of naked horror, are easily conceived; and a writer in whose works they abound, deserves our gratitude almost equally with him who should drag us by way of sport through a military hospital, or force us to sit at the dissecting-table of a natural philosopher. - Samuel Taylor Coledrige, review of The Monk (1797) Irréversible is a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable.it has taken in the past. - Roger Ebert, review of Irréversible (2003) When Gaspar Noé’s controversial film Irréversible premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, a reported 250 people walked out because of nausea or an overall emotional inability to watch (Grøstad 43). The film is a rape-revenge story told backward, meaning we witness the revenge before seeing the events that lead to it. During the press conference that followed the screening, Noé and the leading cast (Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, and Albert Dupontel) were made to defend both the film for its unrelenting and explicit portrayals of violence (that several reviewers and audience members read as gratuitous) and their own morality in choosing to participate in an artistic project of this nature. Viewers were particularly upset with the realistic depictions of a brutal beating and then equally brutal rape, prompting Bellucci (who plays Alex, the rape victim in the movie) to

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assure reporters of her physical and emotional safety during filming, Noé to emphasize the cinematic technique and use of special effects to achieve that type of realism, and Dupontel to praise Noé for the film’s artistic “form” above all else – to establish the film, first and foremost, as a fiction. The problem was not that Irréversible failed in its representations of violence; it succeeded all too well. Irréversible showed a reality that viewers did not want to see, that they were physically unable to watch. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s review of Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk (1796) indicates, condemnation of artists who choose to portray “situations of torment and images of naked horror” has been an enduring trend among critics at least since the Gothic novel. Still, the particular manifestation of such condemnation is worth noting. Both Coleridge and critics of Irréversible gesture toward a certain blurring of the boundaries between reality and fiction, as the realistic portrayals reach through the theater’s screen or novel’s pages to physically disturb, nauseate, and assault the audience. The Monk “drags” and “forces” the reader to experience the text, and Irréversible, in itself, is “violent and cruel” toward its audience. In doing so, as Coleridge notes, the artist transgresses a boundary where “terror and sympathy,” the sentiments related most often to the Gothic, “are deserted by the pleasurable emotions” (399). The horror of these representations destroys all pleasure in the aesthetic experience. While the Gothic novel proper1 was often damned for its tendency toward hedonism and infectious displays of immorality, the inherent danger for critics lay in the Gothic’s ability to make such displays so enjoyable that readers would become complacent and complicit in its horrors, tempted to commit similar sins. Though such literature regularly concluded (and often somewhat facetiously) with some type of moralizing instruction or indication 1

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick uses this phrase when referring to the Gothic works of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Generally, this period begins with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) and ends with Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820).

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that the emotional turmoil of the plot was for the purpose of identification, subversion, and a cathartic purging of those emotions, Maggie Kilgour explains, “the danger was when the means became an end in itself. To many early concerned critics, gothic novels were the unlicensed indulgence of an amoral imagination that was a socially subversive force” (7). Whether through Ann Radcliffe’s conception of the sublime in terror and anticipation, Lewis’s pornographic gaze at the female form, or Charles Maturin’s imbedded textual puzzles, pleasure, and not necessarily moral instruction, was the aim for the readers of late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Gothic literature. “I should like to spend my whole life in reading [The Mysteries of Udolpho],” proclaims Jane Austen’s Catherine in Northanger Abbey, happily stuck in the thrill of suspense and expressing precisely what the critics feared (39). Though the horrors of incest, torture, murder, rape, and the ever-threatening supernatural reemergence of the past are its recurring contextual components, it is the Gothic’s conventions, its form of presentation that neutralizes these dangers for the ultimate pleasure of the reader, though not often for its characters. In her book The Coherence of Gothic Conventions (1976) and subsequent academic articles, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick outlines some of the more recognizable characteristics of the Gothic form. In this paper, I will look at three of these conventions specifically (the nature of the “veil,” “unorganized space,” and the “unspeakable,” which becomes the “unwatchable” in the case of Irréversible) within the context of closure and pleasure in an analysis of Noé’s Irréversible. I argue that the film’s deliberate manipulation of time, space, and narrative sequence disrupts the functioning of otherwise standard Gothic conventions in ways that negate the audience’s enjoyment, the “pleasurable fear” created by such aesthetic experiences (Coherence 11). Instead, the film produces an emotional anxiety in viewers by alienating them from the neutralizing and secure form of traditional fictional representation. Though, according to Kilgour, “the gothic has been associated with a rebellion against a constraining neoclassical aesthetic ideal of order and unity,” ultimately, this rebellion is crushed through a return to order, either by the reestablishment of the

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domestic space (as in Radcliffe) or the just punishment of rebellious and markedly evil transgressors (like Lewis’s Ambrosio) (3). Irréversible, conversely, uses a reverse linear, chronological narrative to fully realize cinematically what the Gothic novel only threatened: a complete cessation, destruction, and reversal of teleological progression. Because “time destroys all things” in Irréversible and, I argue, destroys all pleasure as well, an analysis of the film within a Gothic framework also allows us to reconsider how the enjoyment of the Gothic actually depends on the preservation of the same telos against which it rebels. Part I: Smashed Faces and Sedgwick’s Metonymic Veil If you were one of the audience members that walked out of or became ill during Irréversible, it could have been after only 22 minutes. Occurring early in the film, but positioned as the bloody climax of the narrative, Pierre (Dupontel), Alex’s ex-boyfriend, beats a man to death with a large red fire extinguisher in a gay s/m club called the Rectum. Believing this man to be Alex’s rapist, he smashes his face repeatedly until all that remains is a pile of flesh and blood, completely unrecognizable as human aside from a still partially animated jawbone. Though I will return to this scene when I discuss timing and pleasure more fully, I mention it now because of the subsequent verbal (and physical) manifestation and reiteration of “smashed faces” throughout the rest of the film. “I’m going to smash your face,” or some variant is repeated nine different times by both leading and minor characters. In her article “The Character in the Veil: Imagery of the Surface in the Gothic Novel,” Sedgwick discusses the reoccurrence and importance of the veil in Gothic novels as it relates to surfaces more generally. She argues that while many critics have been interested in a “depth” model in relation to these books, the narratives also reveal a remarkable amount about surfaces, particularly the surface of the body, that become obscured, revealed, bloodied, penetrated, or in some way “inscribed,” and this occurs most frequently through the image of the veil. “Veil and flesh,” she writes, “are so much alike, one need not be dressed to perform a striptease…

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the veil in turn can, like flesh, become suffused with blood” (257). She extends this more specifically to a connection between surfaces to be written on like paper and the flesh of the body. In the Gothic novel, “characters” are both inscribed text and, as individuals who only exist in that text, inscribed people. She writes, “the marking of the flesh and the marking with blood of veils and other surfaces… have important though incomplete similarities to written language, and the use of the term ‘character,’ like the Gothic conception of human character itself, is anchored in this image of the contagious, quasilinguistic inscription of surfaces” (256). This connection between the veil, flesh, and language and also the notion of “contagion” are useful when considering how Irréversible takes up this convention, and, in doing so, makes the metonymic transfer of the veil a realized chain of violent acts directed specifically at faces. The flesh acts as a barrier between depth and surface, and “trauma, or the rupture from without of the protective membrane,” writes Sedgwick, “threaten[s] dissolution through an uncontrollable influx of excitation” (255). Though such rupture and excitation manifest in the Gothic most often with regard to repressed sexual longings and desires, finally able to come to the surface to be expressed and satisfied, in the case of Irréversible, the rupture becomes the literal physical collapsing of surface into depth, the bashing of flesh (the protective membrane) into blood, bone, and gore. The excitation manifests in the scene at the Rectum through Pierre’s repeated blows with the extinguisher, which come faster and faster until surface and depth are indistinguishable. However, this brutal act of violence comes after we follow Marcus (Vincent Cassel), Alex’s current boyfriend, through the Rectum as he tries desperately to find Le Tenia (the tapeworm), the man he and Pierre have been told is the rapist, as we will learn in a subsequent scene. “Do you know Le Tenia?” he asks every person he sees. Finally, completely frustrated, he threatens a man, telling him that if he will not lead him to Le Tenia, he will “bash his face in” with a bottle. “You want your fag face bashed?” he asks. For Sedgwick, the face is a particularly useful location to discuss the collapse of depth and surface, inner and outer, as one’s inner identity becomes

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encoded in the physical attributes of the face, which can be recognized by others: The human face seems also to tyrannize over the Gothic novel, and its insistence, as I will show, is most closely related to what readers see as the flatness, the devitalization of character in these novels. Faces tyrannize here neither by beauty nor by ugliness, nor even by an oppressive numerical excess, but by their very freight of meaning… Like the characters impressed on them, the faces themselves seem to be halfway toward becoming a language, a code, a limited system of differentials that could cast a broad net of reference and interrelation. (262-263) In this way, the face is what makes each character “readable” to others, but because the Gothic narrative plays specifically with various types of “doubling” and misidentification, such attributes often become characteristic of more than one person. Sedgwick writes, “The veil is the locus of the substitution of one person for another, in the service of an indiscriminate metonymic contagion of its own attributes” (259). Until Marcus can find the real Le Tenia, the man he threatens stands-in as the receiver of Marcus’s linguistic abuse. “Filthy queer, you want my fist in your face?” he yells. “I like you; you remind me of someone,” the man replies, reinforcing the sense that doubling and misrecognition permeate the film. Though we will not find out until the rape scene, Pierre, in killing the man who has broken Marcus’s arm in this early scene of violence, has actually killed the wrong person at the Rectum. The man whom he beats with the fire extinguisher was also a substitute for Alex’s actual rapist, a man who stands in the crowd at the club, sadistically watching the violence unfold around him. I read this contagion, manifesting as violence (whether threatened or realized, playful or abusive) directed specifically toward the face, as Irréversible’s Gothic veil. Proceeding forward in the movie and backward in the narrative, the taxi driver whom Pierre and

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Marcus enlist to take them to the Rectum tells Marcus that he will smash his face for calling him a “chink.” In what soon escalates to a physical altercation, now outside of the taxi, Marcus sprays the driver’s face with pepper spray, and he and Pierre drive away with the car. Marcus’s continuous and frantic search for Alex’s rapist leads him to threaten the prostitute who they suddenly realize was witness to the crime: “I’ll bash your tranny whore fucking face!”2 he yells. Still, it is during the scene of Alex’s brutal rape when we uncover the smashed face that has prompted the chain of violent acts throughout the beginning of the movie. As we learn later, Marcus’s inappropriate behavior at a party that the couple and Pierre are attending prompts Alex to exit ahead of both men. It is during this interval of time that she is assaulted, but before we actually witness the rape, we see the first image of Alex in her battered and bloody face as she is pulled from the underpass on a stretcher. In the next scene, the camera follows Alex into the passage from behind, and it is not until Le Tenia accosts her that we finally see her face, not yet veiled in blood, and realize the true identity of her rapist. During the rape itself, Le Tenia’s insults are directed often at Alex’s physical beauty (“The world’s your due, right? Cuz you’re beautiful.”), and his hand over her mouth throughout the assault obscures her face and her screams of pain. The scene culminates in Le Tenia’s kicking and then smashing of Alex’s head into the concrete. “I’m going to fix your face,” he tells her. “I’m going to fix it good.” Though the rape inaugurates the increasingly violent trajectory of the narrative in the movie, as we continue to watch the film in reverse sequence, we soon find that the contagion of the veil was there from 2

This is also another instance of doubling and misreading/misidentification. Marcus and Pierre have learned that the police found a purse with identification in the underpass where Alex was raped. They begin their search for the rapist with the search for Guillermo Nuñez, who turns out to be the Spanish-speaking transvestite prostitute that they are interrogating. Because her facial characteristics are unreadable as male and she is having difficulty communicating to them in Spanish that she is Guillermo, she exposes her male genitalia, saying “moi, moi.”

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the beginning. As the three characters travel to the party, at one point, Marcus playfully swings a bottle of wine at Pierre’s face, and during one of the film’s final scenes, we see Alex and Marcus in bed together, his hand across her face as she tries to tell him about the dream that she had. As the two fool around in bed, Marcus playfully spits into Alex face, prompting her to exclaim, “I’ll get my revenge too!” And, finally, in the film’s most tender moment, Marcus kisses Alex through a shower curtain. The very first instances of the veil then are not violent or threatening but playful and romantic. Still, after watching such scenes of torture and “naked horror,” these moments do little to assist in the viewer’s enjoyment of the film. Instead, they become reminders of the horrible future that the characters have yet to face. Part II: (En)Closure, Timing, and the Veil’s Betrayal Irréversible opens in a room with a man whom certain viewers may recognize as the “Butcher” from Noé’s first full-length film Seul Contre Tous (1998). “Time destroys all things,” he tells a man sitting across from him on the bed. The line, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and also the original title of Irréversible, provides a prologue for the backward narrative that follows, but according to film critics Mikita Brottman and David Sterritt “Irréversible is not, in fact, simply a story told backwards, but a complex study of the nature of time. Its director is less interested in cause and effect than in the form of time itself” (38). The movie explores and manipulates time and space not only through a backward narrative but also scene length and visual disorientation. The film’s complete control of what one sees, when, and for how long one sees it, I argue, accounts for the emotional anxiety of the viewer, possibly even more so than the content of the images themselves. Though we have seen how the veil functions metonymically in what Sedgwick describes as a contagion, it is also representative of the type of suspense and terror found in several Gothic novels. Promising to reveal something both horrible, and horribly exciting, the veil is the moment of the reader’s deferred pleasure and anticipation, when the mystery still waits to be solved. Though the

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reveal, the climax, is inevitable, the Gothic seems to locate ultimate pleasure in the reader’s desiring and waiting to be shown. For Rebecca E. Martin, this accounts for Gothic readers’ satisfaction with repeating this process in one book after another, even if what the novel shows is consistently horrible or disturbing scenes of violence and grotesqueness. She writes, “Imaging promotes voyeuristic interests and in this there is profound pleasure… Cool intellectual interest, morbid curiosity, or sadistic relish are all disguises under which desire operates” (84). Referencing Robert Keily, Kilgour also notes how the fact that the endings of Gothic novels are “unsatisfactory when compared to the delicious experience of the middle of the text, might in itself suggest a radical, antiteleological, model for reading, in which closure, which necessarily involves some restabilisation of categories, is deprivileged” (9). However, this could ultimately be the result of the reader’s own relationship to the authority of the textual experience. Though the book’s author may manipulate length of the deferral, it is within these moments of instability, when what is behind the veil is still a mystery, that the reader has control. Martin explains that “these texts play with the reader, drawing the consumer of the text into a guessing game and placing ‘the burden of construing meaning’ firmly on his or her shoulders” (81). For Sedgwick, “the veil is the place of any voided expectation” (“Character” 258). When it is removed, anticipation ceases, along with pleasure. The veil represents the “tension between a desire to prolong and defer the inevitable and an impulse towards the revelation of the mysteries, between the indulgence of curiosity and its satisfaction” that Kilgour also identifies. “While gothic narratives move towards the revelation of the mystery, they also defer it, taking a narrative scenic route in which one has time to admire the impressively sublime scenery along the way” (32). Though the climax of Irréversible occurs very early in the film, it does not arrive without some suspense or without first taking viewers on a “scenic route,” but it is a journey that the audience pays for dearly when it ends abruptly in unspeakable horror. After the opening prologue with the “Butcher,” the camera pans to an overhead shot of Marcus and Pierre being pulled from the Rectum and placed in

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an ambulance and cop car respectively. The camera then begins to penetrate the halls of the Rectum, as we are thrown backward in the narrative to find out what happened to Marcus and Pierre in the club. The journey through the various passages of the Rectum is the most remarkable and unsettling set of visuals in the film. As Brottman and Sterritt describe, “The camera never stops shaking, bobbing, weaving, bouncing off walls, turning upside down, moving in and out of focus – simultaneously showing us nothing and showing us everything. Its movement mirrors the chaos and violence of the situation and the characters’ wildly out-of-control states of mind” (38). Adding to the sense of chaos, with the exception of motivated but muted red lighting that doubles the lighting in the underpass where Alex will later be raped, the club is almost completely pitch black, making it difficult to distinguish what is happening at any one moment. The droning, driving, and dissonant tone that we assume to be the echoes of a DJ’s set, interspersed with the sounds of s/m pleasure and pain, pulls us through the tunnels aurally. We receive images only in flashes, and for three minutes, what we see is only fragmented body parts in various states of sexual arousal and fornication. As time draws on, and the camera continues to bounce freely from one sexually suggestive or explicit display to another, the pleasure we feel in the anticipation of whatever the climax will be is undercut by a longing for the camera to focus on something, anything, physically distinguishable, if only to get our bearings. The progression of the scene at the club becomes a manifestation of what Sedgwick describes of the architecture in Piranesi’s Carceri d’Invenzione prints. It is “vastly expansive, obscurely defined, and repetitive” (Coherence 25). As Marcus travels through the club, we are never quite sure if he has traveled anywhere at all. He yells to Pierre that he thinks there is a downstairs to the club, but it is only when a bartender suggests that he look for Le Tenia upstairs that we even realize he has moved there. Like the Carceri, it becomes impossible for us to organize space or bodies within it. The camera is met in every direction with the same obscure and disconcerting images, and though there is no way to be sure of

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how large the space is, the echoing sound of the relentless bass creates an unsettling claustrophobia. As Marcus threatens the man with a bottle, we see jarring movements, but are unsure if the cries that we hear are a result of Marcus’s abuse of this man or of a completely unrelated s/m encounter. Violence and sex collapse into each other, as they will continue to do throughout the film. Coincidentally, sadomasochism is also a particularly apt metaphor for describing the pleasure that several critics associate with the Gothic. Lynda Hart writes: S/m's (form)ality depends on a stillness, a waiting that is acted out through both the suspense of deferred gratification as well as the re-enactment of suspense within the sexual scene itself… for if suspense is understood as a desire to extend the scene for as long as possible, even when a ‘consummation’ occurs it is not an endpoint, or goal, but rather a means to reproduce conditions that guarantee the necessity for endless returns. (100) This need for “endless return,” repetitions, and a “deferred gratification” works well with Martin’s thesis regarding the pleasure of Gothic images: “What we can know and can name is that visual images hold a power that is magnified by repetition and together they are the force that makes possession possible by providing pleasure that readers do not want to end” (86). If this closure, the climax, is deprivileged and deferred in the Gothic novel, Irréversible emphasizes finality and inevitability when it positions an extended and unrelenting culmination of horror in the beginning of the film. The beating in the club continues for a solid minute, as Pierre hits the man in the face 23 times in rhythm with the ever-persistent drone. Rowdy cheers turn to silence as several people look on in amazement. “Outta sight!” someone yells. When finally the lighting becomes brighter and the camera has stabilized, pulling back from the close following shots of Marcus to a long shot that presents a clear picture of the space and people in it, the picture is of a kind of

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violence that the viewer does not want to watch. The face of soon-tobe victim is positioned at the bottom right corner of the screen space as Pierre attacks from the left. The camera moves to frame attacker and victim but then remains stationary for almost the entire minute of the assault. However, lest the viewer has diverted his or her eyes away from the beating and to the left corner of the screen (the only space devoid of violence), around the eighth blow, the camera spins, violating the 180-degree rule, and brings the now crushed face back into eyesight in that left corner, forcing the viewer to look again. Soon after this scene, it becomes clear that such violence was the revenge for the rape of Marcus’s girlfriend Alex, and given the graphic portrayal of this beating, the viewer likely realizes that not only is the rape an inevitable part of the film but that it will most likely be shown in a similarly explicit nature. The intermediary scenes between the revenge and rape, as Pierre and Marcus attempt to look for the rapist, seem meaningless. They are not a pleasurable deferral and they conceal no unknown portion of the plot. The future of the movie and narrative past have already been determined, and upon seeing Alex bloody and comatose on the stretcher, the final veil between the revenge and rape (Alex’s smashed face) is also the ocular proof that it has occurred unimpeded. Kilgour claims similar revealings and closures of plot occur in The Monk: Lewis sets up veils only to have them almost immediately penetrated by authorial omniscience helping the reader through the world of illusion. The continuous stripteases which make sure we are never taken in by disguises… As we will see further, this immediate revelation of meaning gives the reader a sense of control and power over the narrative… What this means is that the textual world seems rigidly determined, and at the end it will appear that that has been the case. But what the plots will also explore is the relation between a known conclusion and the suspense that defers it… While in Radcliffe, if you put off a tragic discovery long enough it might just go

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away altogether, in Lewis delay is only a means of working up to an even nastier and more explosive conclusion. (150-151) Though it is true that Lewis uses a similar “delaying the inevitable technique,” the backward narrative of Irréversible makes the type of explosive payoff impossible and so negates any pleasure that might be found in suspense. Because we can be fairly certain that the teleological progression of the Gothic ultimately ends in a return to such order, we can imbibe unapologetically in its spectacle.3 The anal rape that follows immediately after we see Alex on the stretcher is no such spectacle, and this is the other scene that several audience members, if they made it this far, could not sit through at the Cannes Film Festival. Like the beating in the beginning of the movie, the assault is filmed in such a way that precludes (aside from the choice to simply leave the theater) one from looking away. Additionally, because we have already witnessed Pierre inform the police that he and Marcus left the party 15 minutes after Alex, we also can estimate how long the rape will last. While this amount of time seems unbelievably short to Pierre, the nine-minute rape scene, in which the camera remains completely stationary throughout, feels like an eternity for Alex and viewers of the film. Because we know that Alex will not escape and thus are forced to watch the brutal assault in its entirety, the best we can hope for is that it will be over as quickly as possible, but this also makes us disturbingly and unwillingly complicit in the rapist’s pleasure as we wish that he would finish, that the assault would end. We are disgusted again when the only diversion we receive is the sight of an unidentifiable person in the background coming into the underpass, witnessing the crime from a 3

Still, I have argued previously that I also believe that violent scenes in Lewis’s The Monk are actually more aesthetically complicated than what is accounted for in simple gratuitous spectacle. It makes sense to me that readers like Coleridge would have similar reactions to its scenes of horror as contemporary critics have today toward unwatchable cinema.

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distance, and then choosing to abandon Alex. Ebert may be completely correct when he says that this film is “so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable,” but are we also upset that, unlike that person at the end of the tunnel, we can’t walk away? Part III: Unwatchable Pain, Unwatchable Pleasure Though Irréversible’s explicitly violent scenes are difficult to sit through, those that precede Alex’s rape become equally unwatchable when we are forced to view the narrative backward. The trio’s banter about sexuality and jouissance is incredibly disturbing after we have witnessed such a brutal episode of sexual violence, and the dialogue seems designed to provoke exactly this reaction. Reminiscing on their past sex life, Pierre remarks that the closest Alex ever came to orgasm while they dated was falling out of the bed and hitting her head on the night stand. “The closest we got to orgasm was a bruise. I thought it was the real deal,” says Pierre. “She was crying; blood was everywhere.” Likewise, the advice that Alex gives Pierre with regard to satisfying a women is equally and eerily comparable to a perverted dynamic of rape. “Your problem is you focus on your partner’s pleasure,” she tells him. “You have to let loose and think only for yourself… Sometimes a woman’s pleasure is the pleasure that a man feels.” Though the friends joke with each other, ignorant of any imminent danger, our pleasure as viewers is completely negated. Brottman and Sterritt write, “In the bleak narrative of Irréversible, banter, play-fighting, and real violence are all enmeshed with one another; all are continually present. Only human perception interprets one as distinct from another,” and the viewer’s perception has already been drastically altered by this point in the film (40). When the viewer sees Alex and Marcus naked in bed together, instead of enjoying the aesthetically beautiful moments between two people in love, watching Alex’s naked body seems too similar to the voyeuristic scene of her rape, particularly when Marcus playfully tells her that he wants to “fuck her ass.” The final piece of the narrative, and only moment not foreshadowed for us as viewers, is Alex’s joyful discovery that she is pregnant – possibly the most horrific moment in the film and also a

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perversion of the teleological promise made by the marriages that end so many Gothic novels. Because we know the future, we are incapable of participating in the characters’ temporary states of happiness, yet, as several reviewers have noted, the only way that the narrative of Irréversible can have a happy ending is if it is told backward. The happiness of the characters then is at the expense of the viewer’s pleasure. As it does in many Gothic novels, “the past comes back not to critique or reform the present, but to deform and destroy it,” and not for the characters but for the audience (Kilgour 31). In the conventional treatment of most fictional characters in the Gothic, superficiality, as Sedgwick reads in surfaces, is the result of the “displacement of complexity from characters onto the readers’ response to the situations presented, as the gothic’s main concern is not to depict character but to create a feeling or effect in its readers by placing them in a state of thrilling suspense and uncertainty” (Kilgour 6). In negating the possibility of this thrilling state, Irréversible places care in the characters instead of the audience. Ebert writes that “while ordinary chronology would lead us down a seductive narrative path toward a shocking, exploitative payoff… placing the ugliness at the beginning, Gaspar Noé forces us to think seriously about the sexual violence involved.” He concludes, “Irréversible is unflinchingly honest about the crime of rape. It does not exploit. It does not pander. It has been said that no matter what it pretends, pornography argues for what it shows. Irréversible is not pornography,” and it is not pleasurable to watch at any moment. Aware of the tragedies that Alex, Marcus, and Pierre have yet to suffer, we can never feel the happiness they do in those last moments of the film. What we know and have seen is irreversible, and we can do nothing but sympathize. In the end, the characters are safe while we in the audience have been assaulted. In the recently published Screening the Unwatchable: Spaces of Negation in Post-Millennial Art Cinema (2012), Asbjørn Grønstad discusses films like Irréversible in which violence may end for the characters in the narrative, but the traumatic images that such films inflict on the viewer linger long after the credits. While the trauma that Martin discusses as an effect of the Gothic is one of pleasurable

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repetition, the violence in these films, Grønstad writes, “targets the spectators themselves. Accordingly, these films appear to be about the spectator and the act of looking as much as anything else” (2). With regard to unwatchable cinema, Coleridge’s physical description of being forcefully dragged through scenes of horror is precisely of the feelings that the artist hopes to elicit. While I have argued in this essay that it is the form in which Irréversible presents such violent scenes that makes them emotionally difficult to watch, Grønstad suggests that the weight of the images themselves may have more to do with the physical responses and anxieties of the viewer that I alluded to in my introduction: I would like to suggest, however, that Irréversible’s primary concern is neither narrative nor temporality as such, but rather the entropic dimension at work in a particular vein of contemporary art cinema. Entropion is a medical condition where the eyelids fold inward so that the eyelashes rub persistently against the cornea; a phenomenon the disturbatory effects of which seem to provide an apposite metaphor for the discomfort produced by the films in question. (55) This metaphor provides additional insight as to why so many people were upset with the representations of violence in Irréversible. If the audience fails to remain for the entire film, or actively resists the film’s effects throughout viewing, they have no way of reconciling emotionally, morally, or artistically with the trauma to which they were initially exposed, and their discomfort remains purely physical, “entropic,” to use Grønstad’s word. Because “there is little narrative or compositional motivation for showing this kind of cruelty in its actual duration… it could be maintained that the [rape] scene is not about violence but about the act of looking at painful images” writes Grønstad of Irréversible (54). For those viewers who come to the theater to be entertained, who come to the theater for “pleasing” images, it is more likely that they will condemn the artist when the film conversely disturbs and assaults, forcing them to question where

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the art ends and the feelings that it produces in the viewer begin, to question how they would react to similar acts of violence in reality. If they choose to look away, does this also mean that they would turn from, ignore, and abandon real life victims of such crimes? In the press conference for Irréversible, Vincent Cassel argues that the film is meant to provoke precisely these considerations: “The main thing is what state are you in when you leave the film. That’s what you have to analyze.” During the opening scene of Irréversible, the “Butcher” admits to one of the traditional sins of the Gothic: the incestuous relationship he had with his daughter. Of the encounter, the “Butcher” says, “Can’t forget the joy, the pleasure.” Through a manipulation of traditional Gothic conventions, and particularly a corruption of the teleological trajectory that builds suspense, Irréversible denies the audience’s pleasure in scenes of terror, inciting, instead, questions of morality and ethics. In doing so, the film seems to reverse the concerns of Gothic writers with those of Gothic critics, suggesting that it is precisely in those images of torment and naked horror that the ethical subject is created, that these images make “us aware of the extent to which subjectivity and consciousness are embodied states” (Grønstad 34). Though you could write Gothic, as Sedgwick suggests, in the margins all through Irréversible, I argue that without the pleasure, the joy, it remains its negative. Works Cited Albright, Richard S. Writing the Past, Writing the Future: Time and Narrative in Gothic and Sensation Fiction. Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 2009. Print. Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. Ed. Marilyn Butler. London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1995. Print. Brottman, Mikita and David Sterritt. “Irréversible.” Film Quarterly 57.2 (2003-2004): 37-42. JSTOR. Web. 21 Nov. 2012 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “[Samuel Taylor Coleridge,] Critical Review 2nd ser. 19 (February 1797) 194-200.” The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis. Ed. D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen

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Scherf. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press Ltd., 2004. Print. Ebert, Roger. “Irréversible.” Rogerebert.com. Chicago Sun-Times, 14 Mar. 2003. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. Goh, Robbie B.H. “Myths of reversal: backwards narratives, normative schizophrenia and the culture of casual agnosticism.” Social Semiotics 18.1 (2008): 61-77. EBSCOhost. Web. 21 Nov. 2012 Grønstad Asbjørn. Screening the Unwatchable: Spaces of Negation in Post-Millennial Art Cinema. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012. Print. Hart, Lynda. “Doing it anyway: Lesbian sado-masochism and performance.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 13.1 (2002): 89-106. EBSCOhost. Web. 6 Dec. 2012 Hogle, Jerrold E., “Introduction: the Gothic in western culture.” The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Ed. Jerrold E. Hogle. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2002. 1-20. Print. Irréversible. Dir. Gaspar Noé. Perf. Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel. Mars Distribution, 2002. DVD. Kilgour, Maggie. The Rise of the Gothic Novel. London: Routledge, 1995. Print. Martin, Rebecca E. “‘I should like to spend my whole life in reading it’: Repetition and the Pleasure of the Gothic.” The Journal of Narrative Technique 28.1 (1998): 75-90. JSTOR. Web. 5 Oct. 2012 “Press Conference: Irréversible.” Festival De Cannes. Publicis Modern. n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012 Radcliffe, Ann. “On the Supernatural in Poetry.” Gothic Documents: A Sourcebook 1700-1820. Ed. E.J. Clery and Robery Miles. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000. 163-172. Print. Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “The Character in the Veil: Imagery of the Surface in the Gothic Novel.” PMLA 96.2 (1981): 255-270. JSTOR. Web. 5 Oct. 2012.

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---. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. New York: Methuen, 1976. Print. Sterritt, David. “‘Time Destroys All Things’: An Interview with Gaspar Noé.” Quarterly Review of Film and Media 24.4 (2007): 307-316. EBSCOhost. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.

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Sebastiano del Piombo’s Viterbo Pietá Meditation on Motion and Stillness MARSHA LIBINA Sebastiano’s Pietà (1513-16) Museo Civico, Viterbo (Fig.1) is a monumental and haunting work. It is the product of the first collaborative effort undertaken by Sebastiano and Michelangelo and it is the first public commission Sebastiano took on after his arrival from Venice to Rome in 1511. The work was made for Giovanni Botoni’s family chapel in S. Francesco alla Rocca in Viterbo, a small city near Rome that was once the seat of the papacy (Vasari 568; Hirst 43-4). It is difficult not to be struck by the painting’s imposing grandeur, conveyed both by its sizable dimensions and the monumentality of the foregrounded bodies, and by the immense expanse of darkness that surrounds the brightly lit Virgin and dead Christ. The Virgin sits on a rock with her dead son placed horizontally, rigid at her feet. Her hands are clasped in prayer and her eyes look up towards the white moon, which is partially obscured by ultramarine-blue clouds the color of her own dress. One imagines them passing over the moon momentarily, drawn in the same direction as the drapery billowing rightward around her ample waist. The bent trees in the background, seen behind her twisting shoulders and torso, seem to respond to the same gust of strong wind. The white burial cloth underneath and around Christ, however, remains immobile and his face, unlike hers, is cast in dark shadow. The strange iconography of the Viterbo Pietà – its nocturnal setting, the absence of the Cross, Rock of Golgotha, mourners, and other references to the Crucifixion or the sepulcher, the glowing red

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light on the horizon and the barely visible red sphere in the sky, and the fact that Christ lies on the ground instead of in his mother’s lap, akin to a Lamentation but without its usual group of mourners – has repeatedly frustrated scholars’ attempts at interpreting the work.4 Perhaps the comment most demonstrative of the current scholarly impasse, but also of the unusual nature of the work, is Michael Hirst’s: “The picture was the result of exceptional circumstances, biographical accident, and Michelangelo’s consciousness of isolation and befriending a man unconnected with the Raphael bottega, rather than from any conscious artistic program” (48). Hirst claims that the strangeness of the painting stems from a supposedly unplanned and mismatched union of two very different artists with no interest in responding to their artistic circumstances – that is, to the novel picture making explored at this time by Raphael, particularly his approach to the narrative altarpiece, and by Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione in the preceding decade. Hirst goes as far as to call the Pietà an altarpiece “lost to Rome” and “exiled to a dark transept in a provincial town” (48). We are made to imagine Sebastiano as an outsider to the Roman art scene and his painting the product of Michelangelo’s controlling hand and melancholic mood. Following Hirst’s reading, the work’s visual message of prayer in solitude comes to stand in for the infamous melancholia (melancholy) of the brooding artist. This way of explaining the uniqueness of the Pietà is one I want to resist. Instead of making it an odd outlier, the Pietà needs to be considered in context of the pictorial and sculptural Northern Pietà tradition, out of which Sebastiano emerged as an artist. On one hand, Sebastiano’s nocturnal, moonlit, and wind-swept Pietà is the only one of its kind in 16th-century Venice and Rome and works that likely acted as precedents – Michelangelo’s St. Peter’s Pietà (1499-1500) and Bellini’s Pietà, (c.1505), Gallerie dell’Accademia (Fig. 2) – are serene, immobile, and portrayed in daylight (Barbieri, “Disegno fiorentino” 64; Alessi 46). Thus, the choice of a turbulent nocturne for the setting, I argue, is central to Sebastiano’s conception of the Pietà. 1

Various interpretations for the nocturnal landscape setting have been put forth (Alessi 47-50; Barbieri, “Disegno fiorentino” 80-3).

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On the other hand, the Pietà tradition in Northern Italy also needs to be considered because it demonstrates that Sebastiano’s work is not as idiosyncratic as is commonly argued. While Sebastiano’s Pietà should be treated as a work emerging from this well-established Northern tradition, his distinctive pictorial choices show his insistence on a very different kind of Pietà, one that emphasizes distance between the Virgin and Christ rather than intimate contact. In the first section of this paper, I examine how Sebastiano complicates a common and canonical subject and experiments with the Eucharistic implications of the body of Christ. My argument is twofold: I first establish that Sebastiano’s Pietà departs from traditional representations of the same subject in Northern Italian altarpieces, such as those by Cosmè Tura and Giovanni Bellini. It does so by placing Christ at the foot of the painting, in isolation from the Virgin rather than in her arms, and seemingly set outside of the painting’s landscape setting. Second, I claim that the result is a highly ambiguous and disjunctive treatment of space. I argue that this noncanonical treatment of the Pietà group and of pictorial space both indicate that Sebastiano was innovatively thinking through issues of proximity and distance between the viewer and the figure of Christ in the painting.5 More specifically, I claim that the painting speculates on the possibility of visual proximity to Christ’s body, of its accessibility for the viewer; at the same time, it insists on distance between the viewer and Christ’s body. Put another way, I see Sebastiano exploring effects of proximity and distance, both physical and temporal, as they pertained to the functions and demands of the altarpiece.6

5

I owe my thinking on the recurring effects of proximity and distance in Sebastiano’s work to Shira Brisman. Her thoughtful feedback during the initial stages of my dissertation was invaluable to the development of my ideas on this subject. 6 The altarpiece was meant to offer the viewer access to God’s divinity through contemplation of his physical image and through intermediary figures, such as patron saints and the Virgin Mary. An awareness of both proximity to and distance from God were built into

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In the second section, I explore the motivations behind Sebastiano’s choice to make Christ, lying at the feet of the Virgin, appear less integrated into the pictorial setting. I argue that Sebastiano underscores the stillness of Christ’s figure and its isolation from the nocturnal, turbulent landscape in movement. In this way, the painting reveals Sebastiano’s interest in the interaction between pictorial motion and stillness. Moreover, I discuss Giles of Viterbo, whose passionate sermons on reform Sebastiano would have heard upon his arrival to Rome and with whom Sebastiano would have likely come into direct contact two years later through his Viterbese patron, Giovanni Botoni. Giles’ sermons vividly call to mind Augustine’s reflection on man’s fallen existence within time, which is contrasted to God’s eternity and atemporality. By doing so, Giles reflects on the process by which the soul comes to know and understand God. Notably, Giles and Augustine associate time with movement and eternity with stillness – two concepts that Sebastiano picks up on and visualizes in his painting. Thus, I investigate Sebastiano’s Viterbo Pietà, and its emphasis on motion and stillness, as a response to Giles’ reflection on the concepts of time and eternity and his call to reform at the beginning of the 16th century. My argument is that the Pietà conveys the shift between man’s existence within time to God’s existence outside of time in order to bring about an interior transformation in the beholder. The beholder is stilled in his soul like eternity itself, in a meditative process by which he comes to know and understand God. Proximity, Distance, and God’s Accessibility Scholarship on the Venetian and Roman altarpiece tradition commonly traces a neat trajectory of development in which the altar image is seen as casting aside its archaic, iconic format in favor of the modern narrative altarpiece. Sebastiano’s Viterbo altarpiece, the Pietà, challenges this kind of teleological account. By examining the ways in which painters visualized God incarnate at the turn of the the experience For further discussion, see Humfrey, Meilman, and Kessler.

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century, this section reveals the novelty of Sebastiano’s pictorial project – specifically, how Sebastiano differs from his contemporaries in his pictorial and theological concerns when representing Christ. I argue that his Viterbo Pietà departs from traditional representations in order to explore the theological implications of portraying Christ’s body for the beholder in the present. The painting’s ambiguous and disjunctive space indicates that Sebastiano was innovatively thinking through issues of proximity and distance between the viewer and God. Peter Humfrey and Martin Kemp point to the altarpiece as the devotional image par excellence – one that raises questions about the legitimacy of images in Christian worship (6). They outline a trajectory of development that sees the emergence of narrative in the fifteenth-century altarpiece as a new, modern element that fundamentally opposes the traditional demands of the iconic, contemplative image above the altar. This trajectory thus traces the “conflicting demands of drama and symbol” (Humfrey and Kemp 225). Likewise, for David Rosand, altarpieces were innovative in the early mid-16th century for their narrative instability and asymmetry. Their responses to site conditions “freed” them from “the controls of iconic centrality” (Rosand 51). According to Rosand, iconicity is traditional, whereas narrative is a liberating force. But was this really the trajectory in the development of the altarpiece? Does Sebastiano’s work fit into this kind of account or challenge it? The product of a cross-regional alliance, the Viterbo Pietà appears to be much more complex than the oft-repeated struggle between iconic and narrative impulses would have it. The formal tensions that arise in the Pietà are not the result of a historical dialectic between the old iconic and the new narrative altarpiece, but rather, a consequence of Sebastiano’s sensitive attention to the ways that movement and stillness, present and past, time and eternity could simultaneously co-exist in conversation within a painted altarpiece. I argue that Sebastiano juxtaposes these modes in order to reflect on the spatial, temporal, and theological continuities between them and on the transformations that effect the change from one to the other. His decision to enter into collaboration with Michelangelo also reveals a concern for the possibilities that dual authorship could offer painting.

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Sebastiano and Michelangelo employed their diverse artistic backgrounds to bring about this kind of transformative painting that announces its parts and disparities, and holds them in tension with one another.7 In Venice, artists were already experimenting with a new kind of altarpiece, one that does not fit into neat categories like the contemplative or narrative image and that breaks up traditionally expected compositions. This is evident from Giorgione’s Castelfranco Altarpiece (c.1503), Cathedral of San Liberale, Basaiti’s Agony in the Garden (c.1510) (Fig. 3), Gallerie dell’Accademia, and Titian’s Baptism of Christ (c.1512), Pinacoteca Capitolina, among other works. These altarpieces set the stage for Sebastiano’s pictorial experimentation in Rome; they distribute the figures in unexpected ways, include or implicate figures outside of the painting, and create new points of view and asymmetrical compositions. In some ways, the kind of experimentation that we see in northern Italian altarpieces does not appear in works that take up the subject of the Pietà at this time, marking Sebastiano’s composition as a highly innovative reformulation of the canonical Pietà group and, in turn, of the relationship between the viewer and Christ’s dead body. Looking at Sebastiano’s Pietà it is notable that very few painted altarpieces depicting the Madonna and the adult Christ come close to what Sebastiano has done in his work. In Cosmè Tura’s Pietà with Saints (Fig. 4), saints surround the Pietà group and amplify the Virgin’s grief through dramatic gesture and facial expression. The Pietà underscores the earlier moment of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross by the positioning of his arms, the crossing of his legs, and the presence of his wounds. Sebastiano’s Pietà departs from this tradition by separating Christ from his mother, who does not grieve over his body but lifts her head and hands in prayer. No crucifixion wounds are visible and Christ’s idealized beauty is emphasized over his 7

My account of their collaborative works goes against the predominant narrative that describes their desire, even need, to reconcile Venetian colore with Tuscan disegno (Goffen 230 and 235; Hall 152; Barbieri, “The competition”).

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human suffering. Moreover, Sebastiano’s Christ lies still and rigid, unlike the animated body of Christ in Tura’s Louvre Pietà and Saints. As Stephen Campbell points out, in Tura’s works, Christ is rendered in a highly agitated, calligraphic line and has an animated facial expression, which speaks to his paradoxical body, both dead and still suffering (76). Sebastiano replaces this image of Christ’s liminal state between life and death with a body that appears completely motionless and unblemished by pain or suffering. The Bolognese and Ferrarese tradition of the Pietà, based on a sculptural prototype from North of the alps, illuminates what is most novel in Sebastiano’s rendition: the separation of mother and son and the unblemished, static body of Christ.8 Sebastiano’s closest precedents in Venice would have been Giovanni Bellini’s Pietà, Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Dead Christ Supported by Angels (c.1474) (Fig. 5), Pinacoteca Comunale, Rimini. Yet even Bellini’s works do not adequately account for the novel rendering of the Pietà, and specifically of God incarnate, in Sebastiano’s work. Most notably, when Bellini depicts Christ, either in the arms of his mother or those of surrounding angels who hold him up on or behind a parapet, it is never with the same sense of remoteness from his surroundings that one senses in Sebastiano’s work (Pächt 167). Bellini’s Dead Christ Supported by Angels (c.1474) has the young angels gently touch and hold up Christ’s body.9 The numerous hands on Christ’s body, along with Christ’s own hand resting conspicuously at the bottom edge of the painting where his legs slide off as if into our own space (placing his tomb illusionistically in our world), emphasize the possibility of touch. Our proximity to his body is underscored by the nearness of his bloodstained loincloth and by the angel on the right who stands holding Christ’s arm with both hands and contemplates his wound from above. The association between touch and sight is made emphatically 8

Other works that belong to this tradition are the Pietàs of Ercole de’ Roberti (Liverpool and formerly in S. Domenico), Cosmè Tura (Museo Correr), and Amico Aspertini (S. Petronio). 9 See Tempestini for a discussion of the work’s patron (106).

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clear. The painting invites us to see and approach Christ so closely that we can almost touch him. However, while Bellini’s Christ is much closer to the picture plane than Sebastiano’s, allowing for the physical and emotional proximity that a “close-up” permits, he remains incorporated into the pictorial illusion.10 The angels interact with, touch and look at his body. In contrast to Bellini’s interest in physical proximity and touch, Sebastiano isolates his Christ from the Virgin’s gaze and embrace, and places him on a white burial cloth that forms an island around his body. Nothing suggests that his body could be reached and touched by the viewer, though its proximity to the viewer’s space in the lower portion of the painting is highly suggestive of the desire to bridge that distance. The highly paradoxical effects of divine proximity and distance are significant in Sebastiano’s work. Sebastiano’s Viterbo Pietà makes explicit Christ’s physicality, yet at the same time, suggests a different kind of relationship to his body, one that is not dependent on physical touch – neither ours nor the Virgin’s – in order to attain knowledge of God’s divinity. For all the differences between Bellini and Sebastiano, they nonetheless share a mutual and historically bound concern for how a viewer might approach the image of Christ in an altarpiece. I argue that the key to Sebastiano’s work lies in the early 16th century reflection on the kind of accessibility to God-made-man that an altarpiece could offer the faithful.11

10

I borrow the term and concept of a “close-up” from Pericolo 1-29 and Sixten Ringbom 48, 57-8, 71. For both authors, the viewer is brought near the protagonist, but is still situated on the other side of the painting. 11 Calvin, in his Institutes (1539), reflects on the way fallen human reason perceives and misperceives God and argues for the inadequacy of the natural knowledge of God – that is, knowledge of God through visible nature (Steinmetz 154-6). Giles of Viterbo was equally concerned with how man acquires knowledge of religious truth, and whether it was innate to man or attained only through divine grace (O'Malley 22-9).

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In this vein, Enrico Parlato rightfully argues that the Viterbo Pietà should be seen in context of contemporary questions pertaining to sacred painting and the altarpiece (47-8). According to Parlato, Michelangelo was deeply invested in a “reflection on the Eucharistic corporeality of Christ” and the tradition of the imago pietatis (Man of Sorrows) in his London Entombment, and continued to think about the issue of the sacred in art into old age in his late, sculptural Pietàs (47). The collaboration, argues Parlato, should be seen as an exchange of reflections on the subject of devotional painting and the corporeality of Christ. Like Michelangelo, he claims, Sebastiano is interested in the corporeal presence of Christ and emphasizes his volumetric and tactile body by the smooth application of oil paint and chiaroscuro, by his position nearly at the lower edge of the painting, and by the red purplish discoloration of his skin indicative of death (Parlato 47, 49). Parlato is one of the few scholars who draws attention to the importance of investigating the collaboration in terms that go beyond the colore/disegno (color/drawing) debate and the reconciliation of their regional styles: “It is clear, at this point, that the contrast between disegno and colore, between Tuscan and Venetian tradition, which formed the departure point for the discussion of the Pietà, moves away from the binaries of the paragone [comparison] between two diverse pictorial traditions and leads instead to questions pertaining to sacred painting and to the altarpiece, in which [...] Sebastiano had no competitors in the Rome of the second decade of the Cinquecento” (47). It is an important move, one that comes much closer to the concerns that occupied Sebastiano and the culture of the early Cinquecento. Expanding on Parlato’s claim, I propose that it was Sebastiano’s collaboration and intellectual exchange with Michelangelo that informed his conception of Christ’s body and his framing of our relation to it. Sebastiano’s use of Michelangelo’s drawings reveals a highly novel approach to the role that another artist’s visual intelligence can play in his work. However, for Parlato, Sebastiano’s engagement with the problem of Christ’s accessibility is signaled by the artist’s evocation of the tactile corporeality of Christ, more asleep than dead, on the burial cloth (47). While it is true that Christ’s tactile corporeality

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becomes of principal concern for Sebastiano in his later paintings, starting with his series of Christ Carrying the Cross, in his Viterbo Pietà he thinks through the issues of proximity and distance between the viewer and God in a different way. Specifically, in this painting, Sebastiano creates effects of ambiguous and disjunctive space. The result is a collapse of physical and temporal space – ours and the picture’s, present and past – thus offering a reflection on the distance between divine eternity and man’s temporal existence. Rather than offering the viewer proximity and tactile access to Christ’s body, the work instead visualizes Christ’s distance from the viewer and the effort involved in bridging that gap. Scholars, in fact, have frequently remarked on the disjunctive quality of the Viterbo Pietà (Strinati et al. 164; Alessi 47; Hochmann 185; Bellucci and Frosinini 158-65). The Virgin and Christ, for example, appear to be executed in somewhat different manners. The former is a figure in dramatic physical contortion. Her knees point towards the left (towards Christ’s chest), her shoulders and arms twist away to the right, her head turns back in the same direction as her lower body and tilts upwards towards the sky. In contrast to the Virgin, the figure of Christ is slender, rigid and straight, and his skin has a polished, cold-hued, and glowing quality about it. The smooth, undisturbed, and unreal quality of his skin is further thrown into relief by the crisp contours of his white loincloth and of the burial cloth, with its many folds and gatherings of material under his arm, hand, and thigh. The cloth bunches under Christ’s right foot and pulls taught; from there, it extends out towards the foreground of the painting, which is dotted by small plants and flowers. Only here at the bottom of the canvas does the painting give a strong sense of approaching the viewer. The figure of Christ feels not only close to the foreground, but also incongruous with the rest of the scene. His horizontality and the fact that his toes and hair nearly touch the edges of the canvas (the cloth actually does touch the edges) puts him somewhere closer to the picture plane than inside the painting. His “outside-ness” is further suggested by the stillness of his drapery. Unlike the Virgin’s billowing dress and the wind-swept trees in the background, Christ

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and the white drapery do not seem affected by the wind. Instead, the folds of the cloth take on a rippling effect, suggesting a kind of flow outward from the body of Christ. To point out Christ’s “outside-ness,” however, is not to imply that he and the Virgin are unconnected in space. Three cast shadows are visible in the entire painting: under the Virgin’s raised arm, underneath Christ’s chin, running across his chest, and behind the toes of his right foot. The shadows could not be cast by the faint and dispersed light of the moon; instead, they respond to a more focused light source outside and to the left of the painting, likely from the small lunette-shaped window high up on the wall adjacent to the wall on which the Pietà hung.12 Thus, both the Virgin and Christ share a space that responds to the world outside the painting. It is significant that, on the one hand, the figure of Christ is so close to the foreground and unresponsive to the atmospheric effects of the scene that he appears to be not quite in the painting. On the other hand, two cast shadows unite him and the Virgin, and intimate that they both exist in the secular space of the chapel. The Virgin, thus, partakes of both spatial worlds as an intermediary between the “there” and “here.” What could have motivated Sebastiano to create this unusual effect of ambiguous and disjunctive space? Why would he have wanted to make the illusion of the dead Christ lying at the feet of the Virgin after the Crucifixion less convincing, to make us doubt that he is really there? Giles of Viterbo and St. Augustine, On Time and Eternity Fervor for Augustine’s conception of time and eternity was revived in the early 16th-century by the Augustinian prior general 12

The Church of San Francesco alla Rocca was partially destroyed by the Allied bombings in 1944 and rebuilt, leading to the removal of the 17th century Baroque add-ons and the restoration of the original Romanesque appearance. Hirst reconstructs the way the painting would have hung in the altar (Plate 53). The wall to the left contains a small lunette-shaped window, through which light would have passed. Even if it is not the original window, the direction of the cast light in the painting suggests that a window existed to the left of the altar.

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Giles of Viterbo. I propose that the question Augustine raises about man’s ability to conceptualize God in the concrete terms of oratory or writing, a question that continued to concern Sebastiano’s contemporaries and his patron for the Pietà, captivated Sebastiano as an artist. His task was exactly that: visualization of God in painting as something graspable for the viewer in the present – a still, motionless eternity that is outside time and yet seen through temporal phenomena. The Pietà asks: how can a picture convey the fixed, unchanging presence of God to the viewer, who sees everything within time? In creating a confrontation between pictorial motion and stillness, the painting visualizes the transformative shift between temporality and eternity as a means of mirroring the repeated interior conversion of the pious viewer before the altarpiece. By doing so, it mirrors the “movement of the soul” by which the faithful strive to ascend to God’s state of rest.13 I propose that the painting looks odd precisely because of the intended tension and continuity created between Christ’s embeddedness in sacred history and his presence as a sacramental body in the present. The former implies absence and distance from the beholder in time and space, while the latter implies immediacy and communication with the beholder, much like the icon portrait, a relic, or the Eucharist itself (Grafton 67-8). Christ’s body seems to “spill out” from history into the viewer’s present or, alternatively, to begin in the present and slowly make one realize its participation in historical narrative as well. The Pietà thus asserts simultaneous pictorial dimensions of present and past. Why would Sebastiano have wanted to do this? I argue that Sebastiano experiments with the bridging of past and present because he was taken with the problems and possibilities for painting raised by St. Augustine’s conception of time and eternity; this was the Augustine voiced by Giles of Viterbo, with whose ideas Sebastiano came into close contact during his years in Rome and especially 13

The “movement of the soul” towards God is a concept that recurs throughout the writings of St. Augustine, Marsilio Ficino, and Giles of Viterbo.

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during his Botoni commission in Viterbo.14 First, it is necessary to examine the writing of Augustine himself to fully appreciate the way his ideas are then taken up by Giles in his writings and sermons and ultimately by Sebastiano in the Pietà. In Book XI of his Confessions, Augustine differentiates between eternity and human time and asks how the two could be compared. For Augustine, time is always in motion and is never all at once present because of the movement of present into past and future into present. In contrast, God is eternity; he is always present as a whole and stands still, outside of time. Augustine writes: [People] attempt to taste eternity when their heart is still flitting about in the realm where things change and have a past and a future; it is still “vain” (Ps. 5: 10). Who can lay hold on the heart and give it fixity, so that for some little moment it may be stable, and for a fraction of time may grasp the splendor of a constant eternity? Then it may compare eternity with temporal successiveness which never has any constancy, and will see there is no comparison possible. It will see that a long time is long only because it is constituted of many successive movements which cannot be simultaneously extended. In the eternal, nothing is transient, 14

Giles of Viterbo was not the only one reviving Augustine at this time in the context of reform. Johann Amerbach published the works of Augustine in Basel in 1505 and 1506 – 2,200 copies were produced. Individual books had been published before, as well as smaller collections of Augustine's writings. Augustine also appeared as an authority in collections of sentences, such as Peter Lombard's Sentences (which Giles had read) or in the extensive, thirteenthcentury summae, like those of Thomas Aquinas. Other readers among the first generation of Reformers included Martin Luther, Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, Philip Melanchthon and Ulrich Zwingli. For further discussion see Visser.

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but the whole is present. But no time is wholly present. It will see that all past time is driven backwards by the future, and all future is the consequent of the past, and all past and future are created and set on their course by that which is always present. Who will lay hold on the human heart and make it still, so that it can see how eternity, in which there is neither future nor past, stands still and dictates future and past times?15 (Augustine, trans. Chadwick 228-9) Augustine then proceeds to ask whether he is capable of fixing God’s eternity either in speech or in writing, which are man-made creations and hence bound by time: “Can my hand have the strength for this? (Gen. 31: 29). Can the hand of my mouth by mere speech achieve so great a thing?” (Augustine, trans. Chadwick 229)16 For Augustine, man struggles to understand divinity, which, unlike himself, is not bound by such fleeting existence because God exists in an eternal present. At stake is man’s (and Augustine’s own) ability to conceptualize the eternity that is God. A solution to the problem

15

“conantur aeterna sapere, sed adhuc in praeteritis et futuris rerum motibus cor eorum volitat et adhuc vanum est. quis tenebit illud et figet illud, ut paululum stet, et paululum rapiat splendorem semper stantis aeternitatis, et comparet cum temporibus numquam stantibus, et videat esse incomparabilem, et videat longum tempus, nisi ex multis praetereuntibus motibus qui simul extendi non possunt, longum non fieri; non autem praeterire quicquam in aeterno, sed totum esse praesens; nullum vero tempus totum esse praesens; et videat omne praeteritum propelli ex futuro et omne futurum ex praeterito consequi, et omne praeteritum ac futurum ab eo quod semper est praesens creari et excurrere? quis tenebit cor hominis, ut stet et videat quomodo stans dictet futura et praeterita tempora nec futura nec praeterita aeternitas?” (Augustine, ed. O’Donnell 152-3) 16 “numquid manus mea valet hoc aut manus oris mei per loquellas agit tam grandem rem?” (Augustine, ed. O’Donnell 153)

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seems to come in Book XIII, where Augustine resolves that God himself does not exist in time, yet makes things appear in time: But you, Lord are always working and always at rest. Your seeing is not in time, your movement is not in time, and your rest is not in time. Yet your acting causes us to see things in time, time itself, and the repose which is outside time. 17 (Augustine, trans. Chadwick 304) Human time and God’s eternity cannot be compared because they operate in entirely different ways; yet the former is a reflection of the latter. This strongly resonates with Giles’ conception of God, the visible world, and human existence in time. As with Augustine, Giles’s conception of man’s knowledge of God is through the visible, changeable world of temporal events. In his “Fulfillment of the Christian Golden Age under Pope Julius II,” a sermon delivered in St. Peter’s basilica in 1507, Giles states: There are two kinds of good things, human and divine. By human I mean here anything that is brought forth; I call divine him by whom everything other than himself is brought forth. The one is finite offspring, subject to change; the other is God, the immutable Father, infinite. (Martin 236)

17

“tu autem, domine, semper operaris et semper requiescis, nec vides ad tempus nec moveris ad tempus nec quiescis ad tempus, et tamen facis et visiones temporales et ipsa tempora et quietem ex tempore” (Augustine, ed. O’Donnell 205).

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The idea of two realms, the changeable and the immutable, vividly calls to mind Augustine’s reflection on man’s fallen existence within time, which he contrasts with God’s eternity and atemporality. Furthermore, in Chapter XVII of his Commentary on the Sentences of Petrus Lombardus, Giles builds on Augustine’s idea in the Confessions of divine, eternal rest and the soul’s inquietude until it finds rest in divinity. Giles makes explicit reference to Augustine’s notion of the intellect in motion and the will as divine rest and fulfillment (Nodes 11). He imagines a banquet hall that serves nectar and ambrosia, where the former represents the will and the latter the intellect.18 The imagery is an allegorical interpretation of, first, the pleasure of the intellect, and finally the repose of the will (“a stable and motionless rest in some happy reality and the eternity – or, so to speak, the immortality – of that happiness”) (Giles of Viterbo, Commentary 53). Giles makes clear the association between the will as rest and fulfillment, and the intellect as motion towards that goal.19 The same sentiment can be found in Giles’ sermon. Giles describes the four stages of Etruscan education that make use of the two powers, intellect and will, to make it so that “the soul should come to know itself” (Martin 233-4). He goes on to say that philosophy, concerned with intelligence rather than love, deals with “material facts, transient matters, and fluid things perceived by the senses” (Martin 234). By rising up through the stages, the soul frees itself from “the flux and fog of matter” (Martin 234). Giles’ writings and sermons time and again describe the soul’s coming to know God as an

18

“Et de voluntatis actibus ab antiquis dicitur quod diis, hoc est, beatis apponitur nectar et embrosia. Nectar inebrians voluptatem significat, ambrosia vero, quietem et stabilem immotamque rei felicis, et felicitatis aeternitatem, et ut ita dicam, immortalitatem” (Giles of Viterbo, Commentary 53). 19 “Quies non intellectus est, ad quem finis terminusque motus animae non est, qui in voluntate quiescit. Bonum enim absens movet; quo praesente quiescimus. Sed motus ille est appetitus, actus voluntatis et amoris. Ergo eiusdem est quies abeunte motu” (Giles of Viterbo, Commentary 53).

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ascent from a state of motion to one of stillness, achieved by “unceasing meditation, mindfulness and vigilance” (Martin 234).20 Giles’ close friend and Sebastiano’s patron, Giovanni Botoni, wrote a letter to Giles on February 24, 1502 that reveals a similar preoccupation with the invisible God and his revelation to man through the visible world. Botoni writes, We mortals, stirred by numberless emotions, separated by many mountains and spaces, in the same way as the weakness of the flesh is separated from our soul, we have to react with crying out, with writing and talking so that the ignorant might understand the learned one and turn away from the wrong road. In seeing all this, our most merciful God, the invisible and unconfined spirit, the God who was made word, willingly assumed flesh and presented himself visible to us mortals, to be heard and to be felt.21 (Barbieri, “Sebastiano del Piombo” 119-21)

20

These passages vividly call to mind Augustine’s provocative reflection on time and eternity. Augustine’s consideration of immaterial movement, contrasted with the movement of material (celestial) bodies, leads him to posit that the mind experiences movement in its thoughts. He locates time in the movement of the soul and employs what Ricoeur calls a “quasi-spatial language” to convey this idea (11). 21 “ita nos mortales innumeris agitati affectibus, quia tot seiungimur montibus, tot distamus spatiis, quot carnis infirmitas animis nostris illecebras proponit, innectit, clamore, vocibus ac scripto opus est, ut doctum imperitus intelligat et a via mala convertatur. Id prospiciens peintissimus Deus, spiritus invisibilis incircumscriptusque, verbum quod Deus erat, carnem sumere voluit ut mortalibus visibilem, audibilemque et palpabilem se preberet” (Giles of Viterbo, Egidio da Viterbo 152-3).

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Botoni’s words “to be heard and to be felt” add emphasis to an already evident pronouncement of God’s incarnation as Christ. However, they also underscore man’s need to experience God through the earthly senses and through language because he has no other way. The subtle note of urgency in the words “we have to react with crying out, with writing and talking” and in God revealing himself upon seeing this state of things, suggests a limitation to words and language as a way to comprehend God. I propose that the question Augustine raises about man’s ability to conceptualize God in the concrete terms of oratory or writing (a question that continued to concern Sebastiano’s contemporaries as Botoni’s letter and Giles’ sermon show) captivated Sebastiano. He conceives of the altarpiece as an image tasked with the visualization of God as something graspable for the viewer in the present – outside time, yet seen through temporal phenomena. To borrow Augustine’s language from the quotation cited earlier: “Who will lay hold on the human heart and make it still, so that it can see how eternity, in which there is neither future nor past, stands still and dictates future and past times?” (Augustine, trans. Chadwick 229) Augustine’s question reflects on whether man could understand God’s eternity from his temporal existence and on how he could achieve this understanding.22 The passage suggests that in order to contemplate God’s eternity man must stand still himself – it suggests that an interior transformation must take place. Sebastiano engages with Augustine’s questioning by visualizing temporality as a tumultuous, nocturnal landscape. He gives it pride of place within the painting: all the parts of the 22

Augustine’s question is evoked in Contarini’s letter of 1512 to Giustiniani, showing that it still held meaning in 16th-century Italy (Gleason 30). Vasari, Giorgio. Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori scultori ed architettoti. Vol. 5. Ed. G. Milanesi. Florence, 1906. Print.

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landscape are fused into an unbroken whole through the continuous, warm purple-brown tonalities. The landscape encircles the Virgin’s body, while the wind catches her garments. The Virgin’s dramatic movement within a landscape activated by transient weather visualizes the temporal and unstable state that characterizes the viewer’s own existence in time and refers back to Augustine’s notion of time which “never has any constancy” as compared to Christ’s eternity. Yet, the figure of Christ remains “out-of-time,” ideal, unmoving, and bloodless. Sebastiano literally collapses movement in the sleeping figure of Christ, where motion comes to a standstill. Sebastiano’s Christ neither moves in time, nor rests in time, which is felt all around him in the landscape and in the Virgin’s movement. In this way, the painting engages in the contemporary debate on man’s place between the physical and spiritual world and on his ability to bridge the gap between his temporal existence and God’s eternity. In his treatise Platonic Theology: On the Immortality of Souls (1482), which was itself informed by Augustine, Marsilio Ficino states that "eternity must be granted to a mind which transcends time and despises temporal things for the sake of the eternal God” (qtd. in Kristeller 314; Ficino 318f). For Ficino, contemplative knowledge can be attained only by overcoming external, transient things. He goes on to analogize this contemplative knowledge of God to the clarity of celestial things. This clarity, however, cannot be maintained by man for long as it becomes obscured again by his temporal, sensory world: [The soul] could never imagine that these [separated Reasons] exist in the order of things, if it could not for a short time at least chase the clouds of sensible images from its sight. But soon the clouds gather again because of the nature of this earthly region and because of habit, and hinder the clearness of celestial things. (qtd. in Kristeller 314; Ficino 318f)

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Likewise, the anonymous 14th-century treatise Theologia Germanica, which Luther discovered and published in 1516 and again in 1518, posits that while some deny that the soul still in the body can “reach so high as to cast a glance into eternity,” this union is possible to attain if the soul strips itself of all images, the flesh, and things pertaining to the senses (Luther 45). In both cases, the senses and man’s temporal existence are an impediment to the soul’s ascent to God. Sebastiano’s Pietà pictures the celestial orb of the moon, partially obscured by clouds (calling to mind the passage from Ficino), and the Virgin surrounded by a tempestuous, dark landscape. In doing so, however, the painting does not suggest that one’s temporal existence is a hindrance to understanding God’s eternity. Christ’s stillness, I argue, is set not in opposition to the Virgin and landscape, but rather, is inflected by them. The Pietà offers a reflection on man’s unfixed place between fleeting time and fixed eternity. The Virgin’s solitude should thus be read as a mirror and model to the viewer’s own solitary meditation on Christ. Moreover, rather than conceiving of images as a hindrance to union with God, as Ficino and Luther do, Sebastiano insists on their utility in contemplation: the Pietà offers a reflection on both the difference and affinity between time and eternity, between man and God. The Virgin’s temporal reaction and Christ’s atemporal stillness are juxtaposed in a way that demands the viewer to work at moving from one figure to the other and to consider this disparity. The purposeful positioning of Christ at the foot of the painting, so to speak, instead of in the Virgin’s lap, complicates the viewer’s experience of the painting; he can neither easily project the entire scene back in time, nor concentrate on the Pietà group as a unit. Disunity is an intended effect of the painting; as is the painting’s exhortation to the viewer to bring together these diverging elements. The effect created is one where Christ is both a sacramental body in the present (signaled by the fiction of his lying in the real space of the church altar table) and embedded in sacred history. By taking Christ out of the historical narrative, Sebastiano offers his body up for contemplation in the present and asserts God’s eternal

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proximity to man. Yet, here too, both proximity and distance determine our relationship to Christ’s body. Christ’s presence and accessibility are subverted by the dark shadow that partly conceals his face. The viewer is made aware of the distance that must be traversed to attain knowledge of God from his own time- and sense-bound world. That the senses are part of the journey is insinuated by the moving shadows, clouds, wind, and other natural phenomena that stir around Christ’s body. Other passages in the painting offer further reflections on the proximity and distance between divinity and man. The moon, an evocation of divinity in the heavens, appears both close and far away – close in the literal distance that must be traversed over the picture plane up from the Virgin’s eyes, but far as a celestial body within the illusion of the painting. In this way, the Pietà reflects on the notion of still eternity and moving time, and on the proximity and distance between them. To return to my initial questions: How does the painting enact the pious viewer’s inner conversion? How can man’s soul be made to stand still? My final claim is that man’s interior transformation is located by the painting in the mutability of natural phenomena – seen in the sky, clouds, wind, waterfall and red light in the landscape. Stillness comes to stand figuratively for an atemporal state of being, that is, for Christ’s divine nature, while the viewer’s aspiration to achieve that state of divine rest out of his fallen temporal existence is visualized by the painting as transient nature. Meditating in front of the work, the viewer participates in its turbulent movement, but his eye also finds rest in the still body of Christ. The painting thus visualizes the shift between man’s temporal existence and stillness, described by Giles and Augustine, as the process by which God comes to be known and understood. By doing so, the painting works on its viewer to effect this transformation of the mind and soul. The beholder is stilled in his soul; he is made to stand still like eternity itself. Thus, Sebastiano’s Pietà is a theological reflection on man’s existence in time in relation to God’s existence out-of-time, and on how one overcomes this chasm through meditation and prayer. Illustrations

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Fig 1. Sebastiano del Piombo, PietĂ (1513-16), oil on canvas, 225 x 260 cm, Museo Civico, Viterbo

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Fig 2. Giovanni Bellini, Pietà, (c.1505), Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

Fig 3. Marco Basaiti, Agony in the Garden (c.1510), Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

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Fig 4. Cosmè Tura, Pietà with Saints (1474), Louvre, Paris

Fig 5. Giovanni Bellini, Dead Christ Supported by Angels (c.1474), Pinacoteca Comunale, Rimini

Works Cited Alessi, Andrea. “Dante, Sebastiano and Michelangelo: further reflections on the Viterbo Pietà.” In Sebastiano del Piombo, 1485-1547. Eds. Claudio M. Strinati, Bernd Wolfgang

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Lindemann, and Roberto Contini. Milan: F. Motta, 2008. 4551. Print. Anchise Tempestini, Giovanni Bellini. New York: Abbeville Press, 1999. Print. Augustine. Confessions. Ed. James J. O’Donnell. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992. Print. Augustine. Confessions. Trans. Henry Chadwick. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. Barbieri, Costanza, “The competition between Raphael Michelangelo and Sebastian's role in it” in Marcia B. Hall, The Cambridge Companion to Raphael. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 141-164. Print. Barbieri, Costanza. “Disegno fiorentino, colore veneto e altri significati emblematici della Pietà.” In Notturno Sublime: Sebastiano e Michelangelo nella Pietà di Viterbo. Ed. Costanza Barbieri. Roma: Viviani, 2004. 55-86. Print. Barbieri, Costanza. “Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo in Rome: Problems of Style and Meaning in the Viterbo Pietà.” Diss. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 1999. Print. Bellucci, Roberto and Cecilia Frosinini. “Il processo di elaborazione dell’immagine in Sebastiano del Piombo: la Pietà e la Flagellazione di Viterbo.” In La Pieta di Sebastiano a Viterbo. Eds. Costanza Barbieri et al. Roma: Nuova Argos, 2009. 148169. Print. Campbell, Stephen J. Cosmè Tura of Ferrara: Style, Politics and the Renaissance City, 1450-1495. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Print. Ficino, Marsilio. Opera Omnia. Torino: Bottega d’Erasmo, 1959. Print. Giles of Viterbo. Egidio da Viterbo O.S.A. Lettere familiari. Vol I. Ed. Anna Maria Voci Roth. Rome: Institutum Historicum Augustinianum, 1990. Print. Giles of Viterbo. Giles of Viterbo: The Commentary on the Sentences of Petrus Lombardus. Leiden: Brill, 2010. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. Goffen, Rona. Renaissance Rivals: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian. New Haven: University Press, 2002. Print.

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Grafton, Anthony. “Historia and Istoria: Alberti's Terminology in Context.” I Tatti Studies: Essays in the Renaissance Vol. 8 (1999): 37-68. Web. 15 May 2012. Hall, Marcia B. The Sacred Image In the Age of Art: Titian, Tintoretto, Barocci, El Greco, Caravaggio. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. Print. Hirst, Michael. Sebastiano del Piombo. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981. Print. Hochmann, Michel. Venise et Rome 1500-1600: deux écoles de peinture et leurs échanges. Genève: Droz, 2004. Print. Humfrey, Peter. The Altarpiece in the Renaissance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Print. Humfrey, Peter and Martin Kemp. The Altarpiece in the Renaissance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Print. Kessler, H. Herbert. Spiritual Seeing: Picturing God's Invisibility in Medieval Art. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Print. Kristeller, Paul Oskar. “The Theory of Immortality in Marsilio Ficino.” Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 1, No. 3 (June 1940): 299-319. Web. 3 Nov. 2012. Luther, Martin. The Theologia Germanica of Martin Luther. Trans. Susanna Winkworth. Courier Dover Publications, 2004. Print. Martin, Francis X. Friar, Reformer, and Renaissance Scholar: Life and Work of Giles of Viterbo, 1469-1532. Villanova: Augustinian Press, 1992. Print. Meilman, Patricia. Titian and the Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print. Nodes, Daniel. Introduction. Giles of Viterbo: The Commentary on the Sentences of Petrus Lombardus. By Giles of Viterbo. Leiden: Brill, 2010. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. O'Malley, John W. Giles of Viterbo on Church and Reform: A Study in Renaissance Thought. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1968. Print. Pächt, Otto. Venetian Painting in the 15th Century: Jacopo, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna. Trans. Fiona Elliot. Eds. Margareta Vyoral-Tschapka and Michael Pächt. London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2003. Print.

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Parlato, Enrico. “Durata e persistenza della visione nella Pietà di Viterbo.” In La Pietà di Sebastiano a Viterbo: Storia e Techniche a Confronto. Eds. Costanza Barbieri, Enrico Parlato, and Simona Rinaldi. Roma: Nuova Argos, 2009. 4249. Print. Pericolo, Lorenzo. “The invisible presence: cut-in, close-up, and offscene in Antonello da Messina's Palermo Annunciate.” Representations Vol. 107, No.1 (2009): 1-29. Web. 3 April 2012. Ricoeur, Paul. Time and Narrative. Vol I. Trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. Print. Ringbom, Sixten. Icon to Narrative: the Rise of the Dramatic Closeup in Fifteenth-century Devotional Painting. Doornspijk: Davaco, 1983. Print. Rosand, David. Painting in Sixteenth-century Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print. Steinmetz, David C. “Calvin and the Natural Knowledge of God” in Via Augustini: Augustine in the Later Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation. Eds. Hieko A. Oberman and Frank A. James. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991. 142-56. Print. Strinati, Claudio M. et al. Sebastiano del Piombo, 1485-154. Milan: F. Motta, 2008. Print. Tempestini, Anchise. Giovanni Bellini. New York: Abbeville Press, 1999. Print. “Three letters of Gasparo Contarini to Paolo Giustiniani and Pietro Querini, 1511-1523.” In Reform Thought in Sixteenth-century Italy. Ed. Elizabeth G. Gleason. Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1981. 21-34. Print. Vasari, Giorgio. Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori scultori ed architettoti. Vol. 5. Ed. G. Milanesi. Florence, 1906. Print. Visser, Arnoud S. Q. Reading Augustine In the Reformation: the Flexibility of Intellectual Authority In Europe, 1500-1620. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.

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Predicate Issue 3  

Time and Memory

Predicate Issue 3  

Time and Memory

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